January 05, 2014

New Year's expectations

How does one start a post, after a month off the grid?
I've been pondering over that question for about two weeks now, but hey - here I am.
I feel confused about where to take this blog in 2014. It's a substantial and utterly satisfying part of my life, but it's also very time consuming and I'm constantly wondering - where is this going?
Fashion, beauty, fitness, health - I'll leave that to the pros and the wealthy.
I'm just happy to be a normal person with normal goals and a grande portion of life confusion on hand and I'm certainly happy to share that state of confusion (and those rare moments of enlightenment) on this platform. So I suppose I just answered my own question by admitting that I would like to go on rambling, without any kind of blogger series or weekly column (because I've tried and failed doing these SO many times), without a category, without a predetermined posting frequency. No pressure. Just expression.

I'll start by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. I hope your Christmas was a lot less sad than mine and I hope unlike me, you didn't pass out on the couch at 10:30 pm on NYE.

Let's get straight into the New Years resolutions then, shall we?
I mean, that stuff gives so much fuel to all these websites, magazines and TV shows - their pages will be dripping of work out regimes, clean eating plans and budget friendly wardrobe overhauls (lol) for the next four weeks or so. I kind of didn't want to jump on the bandwagon, but man do I feel motivated and ready for subtle change. I wonder how quickly I could take over the world, if I was consistently in this state.

I'm calling my resolutions "expectations" this year. An unfulfilled expectation results in disappointment. An unfulfilled resolution results in a wee bit of guilt at the end of the year. I hate disappointing people, and most of all I hate disappointing myself, so that should be fueling the engine. I also think an expectation is much more  concrete and can be followed up with a realistic plan. Maybe I'm just so over failing at resolutions (and may I say, I did actually follow through with most from last year, just not the important ones...), so calling them a different name makes them more feasible to achieve. But anyway, here are a few things I expect of myself this year:

Selective media consumption

About five minutes ago I deleted over thirty blogs off my feed. I un-followed over one-hundred strangers on instagram. I will actively avoid flooding my brain with images of unrealistic body images and excessive materialism. I haven't picked up a single women's magazine in 2013 and let me tell you, this was a healthy choice. Yet I almost instantly decided to gather my self-esteem busters through social media instead.
At the moment I am questioning what made me follow these blogs or people in the first place. Did I worship the thin and beautiful women who seem to have insatiable access to garments of all price tags and hang out with seemingly the most stunning and interesting people on this planet? Was it the professional photography that intrigued? Was it a way of living a suppressed dream through somebody else? Or was it just outfit inspiration? But if it was the latter (and there is no harm in outfit inspiration), why am I not following blogs that star people of a dress size and yearly income I could actually relate to? How did I end up consuming media that is completely irrelevant for me, my life, my level of wealth? I feel a shattering certainty of having uncovered some serious self-manipulation tactic, all while thinking I was too progressive and educated to fall into that trap.  Consuming images of skinny, beautiful, constantly traveling wealthy women with a massive social network who sport equally desirable attributes was bound to make me feel less great about myself and my whole life.

Another shocking certainty is that out of seventy blogs I followed until this morning, only one was curated by a man. My instagram feed didn't look much differently - three or four male photographers, mostly fashion, hardly any travel (aka what I consider the essence of my happiness), lots of instagram famous American models, some unrealistic fitspiration, make up accounts, a few female celebrities. This is what I chose to consume on a daily basis. Comparing myself to them, at times thinking I was living an incomplete life, when I'm not lacking any of the real goods. I have a wonderful relationship with my family, friends and partner, I live in a spacious house, I can pay my bills, have a challenging job, can go traveling overseas at least once a year, am steadily building a healthy relationship with my body and generally have my shit together. So why manipulate myself on a daily basis? I have to put an end to this, and today is where I start.

I am also introducing two media related ground rules to my life:

"No social media before breakfast"
Before I owned a smart phone, I was disgusted by people who told me they woke up and straight away checked their social media. Sadly I am one of them now. And it doesn't take a rocket scientist to point out that isn't a healthy way to start your day. Instead I will be either writing stuff or walk my crazy puppy.

"Social media can be checked three times per day, not more often"
I have developed a really bad habit of checking my social media basically whenever there are five minutes to spare. Most of the time, nothing and no one has updated or uploaded anything new, so it's even worse I read or look at this insignificant bullshit numerous times. I check on my breaks at work, if I have to wait at airports or taxi ranks, when I'm bored at home, when I'm bored somewhere else, while I walk my puppy, while I watch movies or TV, when I'm on the toilet (!!!), heck, I even tried to connect to facebook once using crappy non-functioning airplane wi-fi during a 55 minute flight. What the hell is wrong with me? What's wrong with this generation? Life's passing by, and where letting ours be dictated by the virtual presence of others. No more I say. No more.

Effort for effort's sake

Everyone who knows me, knows I don't do shit by halves. I like to give things my all. I work hard, I get stuff done and if I have to put in an extraordinary effort, I will. But I will only do it, if it benefits my work or if it benefits other people. I don't do it for myself, or just for the sake of doing it. This may sound profound but it starts with food. If there is just me for dinner, I'd happily eat nothing but a boiled egg or a grilled cheese sandwich. If it's me and my partner, I make sure there is a healthy proportion of protein, carbs and vegetables on that plate. I like healthy food, I much prefer it over junk most of the time, so why not put in a little extra effort and make a nice meal just for myself? Why do I feel I'm wasting time and effort if I do stuff just for myself? Is that some sort of patriarchy installed  "women sacrifice your own needs so you can cater to others" bullshit that got handed down to me from my female role models? Possibly. Maybe. I don't know. But it needs to change.

So in short I expect of myself to make an effort to cater to my own needs, as profound or great as they might be. I expect to prioritize myself, be kinder to myself and do what's good for my body and mind.

Learn how to braid hair

Five year olds can braid better hair than I can. I tried to do a french braid on myself yesterday and failed miserably. I can literally feel nerval ends in my brain attempt-attatching and then retrieving when my fingers get too confused and hair strands end up everywhere. I need a third hand at least. Or one of those creepy doll heads to practice on. Either way, 2014 is hair braiding year.

Maybe wash car

So there you go. New Years expectations, resolutions, whatever you want to call them...let's do this! What are yours? Did you set any goals? Are you perfection in itself already and turn your back to these kinds of things while simultaneously putting in your monocle and twirling your thin, waxy mustache? Tell me tell me tell me tell me.

all images Grete Stern via pinterest