What are you currently feeling pressure to do that you don’t particularly enjoy?
Make resolutions. Or pick a theme, a brand, a style, a personal hashtag.
There are several reasons I don’t enjoy this.
First, people beat themselves up – they are too fat, too out of shape, too pessimistic, too lazy – during much of this resoluting. They pick apart their lives with a fine tooth comb of barely veiled self-loathing. It is a bit sad and rather exasperating to witness self-flagellation. Mostly sad. And you hurt people when you talk about “fatties” and use other words that are simply mean. Even if you just intend to be mean to yourself.
Second, and perhaps a bit of an ironic follow-up, there’s a smug self-righteous quality to it – a cross between bragging and avoidance of true self-examination. Everyone could be in better shape, right? And who doesn’t want to be the mid-life version of the manic-pixie dream girl? Those are universal themes that perhaps distract us from the painful process of self-examination.
Third, I can’t help but think of the manic-pixie dream girl trope. Perhaps investing all that energy into ourselves flies in the face of a female character whose quirkiness is leveraged only to prop up her man, but without any insight into the a ha moments – this theme/resolution/brand strikes me as an attempt to transform the simple act of striving to be a better person into some loftier goal. I’m skeptical when people tell me that they have big plans to do all these crazy things. It is the difference between telling me “I’m going to Italy for two weeks this year” and “I want to travel.” I never believe people who tell me what they want to do. I do believe people who tell me their plans. I want to do things that involve planning so I shy away from the “let’s see the world” approach to life.
Fourth, what the heck is a vision board? It sounds terribly unenvironmental and that makes me feel like it must be inherently selfish to create a vision board if it means fewer trees for our grandchildren. It feels like we are appropriating someone else’s culture and spirituality. Turns out that a vision board is often what I call a collage. We used to make them with clients when I worked in a domestic violence shelter and they were super powerful therapeutic tools. Appropriating cultures, dabbling in religious beliefs and using therapeutic tools without some guidance are not things I like to do. I do like to make collages, but I can’t really use scissors well these days. So maybe I just have vision board envy?
Fifth, why do we have to make it so complicated? A resolution can be specific (Go to the gym 3x week) or more abstract (Treat myself with kindness and compassion.) Why does it have to become a mini-Kardashian branding exercise? I find that bewildering. And when I ask questions, I am shut down which makes me suspect that this larger process of resolution is incredibly important on some level I just don’t get.
Perhaps it is because in 2010 when I was on a “journey to a new me” during which I lost 50 lbs, I was truly a very sick woman and all of the “yeah me, you go girl” hype was masking that fact. So I have a very concrete reason to be skeptical of this process, this language, and the implications of a superficial celebration of mandatory change. I’ve had people express empathy that I regained the weight and I’m like “Have you missed the memo about recovery and new meds and so forth?” Setting aside that of course I could have a healthier lifestyle, it bewilders me that people think my concern is weight loss. I’m focusing on staying alive, friends.
Or maybe I’m just crabby.
No. I’m not crabby. Much. I am someone who survived a really fucked up episode of self-exploration that was not compassionate to me, not healthy and not normal. And I let some of this New Age stuff fuel my manic frenzy, so I’m wary and skeptical when I cross paths with this language.