Hey beautiful people!
I often find myself thinking about social media; pondering the questions it raises about our existence and what its introduction has and will do to us. One thing I find myself often wondering about is authenticity.
Authenticity of our lives, of our personalities; our dreams and desires. One of the double-edged swords of our age of connectivity, in my opinion, is the constant exposure to everything. Cultures, ideas, images, music, messages.
While on one hand there’s affirmation to be found in thousands of people just like you, there’s dissent and self-loathing to be found in thousands more not. There’s constant bombardment of the good, the bad, the ugly and the calculated.
Everyone likes to talk about the “fake” version of reality that’s constructed through social media and the harmful impacts that has. The fake Instagram models damaging self-esteem. The fake perfect couples setting expectations for real life relationships too high and damaging real ones. “Goals” that aren’t actually real goals. Something I’d like to explore further at some point is the connection between media and society – but that’s a whole separate issue.
I find myself thinking a lot about about people in other cultures. Travelling more this year, as cliche as it may sound, opened my eyes to the other ways people live. There’s so much happiness to be found in simplicity; so many people living in conditions that we’d consider squalor here are far happier and more grateful than we are!
Do you ever think about what people thousands of years ago wanted? What their goals were? I’m eternally grateful to live in this world, in this time, but there is something to said for living in a time where it must have been so much more simple to sort out who you are, separate from all the fragments of things you’ve picked up from other people.
But none of this is the point of today – forgive me, I’m getting side-tracked.
One of the things I’ve always been interested in is marketing; the psychology behind it, the intelligence. It’s fascinating – marketing controls us all, it makes up the facets of our society. How we see the world is all shaped through adverts, carefully curated messages and implanted opinions. What’s beautiful in one country is disgusting in another; what constitutes a “dream” relationship one society is what’s considered completely wrong in another.
If you want an example, just look at newspapers – the politicians are the products, the stories are the ads. Watch how they can feed into existing biases; draw out our support or shine our pitchforks.
A trend that has blown up recently is healthcare. You’ve all seen it; veganism, minimalism, meditation, yoga, mental health, clean eating, etc.
Health is the new luxury.
(You could argue the irony that in a time where health is being pushed so heavily the NHS is underfunded and Britain is losing most of its doctors and nurses. That we aren’t running massive campaigns about the dangers of over-reliance on anti-biotics and the dangers of sugar. You could also make a case that there is a lot of the fake kind of healthy; the sort of healthy life that looks good on Instagram. Yet, that’s just me being cynical.)
I don’t want to sound pretentious and holier-than-thou; I’ve whole-heartedly bought into this healthy lifestyle. I’m excited to join the gym and start eating cleanly and take care of my mental health; I’m just pointing out a trend.
In my opinion, this trend has come about as part of the “perfect life” package that the world seemed to subscribe to with Instagram. Everyone wants to be pristine; that means having an amazing house, an amazing face and body, an amazing partner, doing amazing things and being amazing and inspirational.
And so leads me to the crux of this post.
It’s a Friday night while I’m writing this. I’ve come home from work and I was supposed to go for drinks with my best friend and then clubbing with another best friend. It sounds fun, right? An opportunity to do something exciting. To take funny Snapchats and show off that we’re young, fun and we have friends. To make memories. To get drunk. To feel pretty. To further perpetuate that London Lifestyle™.
What am I doing? Sitting in an empty house, listening to music that nobody else really likes, writing. There are some good books that I want to order; a few documentaries I want to watch.
I want to make it very clear: I’m not happy. If I’d have gone out, I’m sure there’d have been moments of happiness – I’m sure I’d have had a great time.
What I am, right now, is content.
My best friend, the one I was supposed to go clubbing with, will be horrified with me. She’ll moan about me being “boring”; she’ll say “life should be taking advantage of every moment and living it to the fullest” or some Pinterest-worthy quote like that.
This is something that I personally disagree with; it’s part of the instant gratification that I believe our always-connected culture brings. In my opinion – and I want to make it very clear that this is a personal opinion; I don’t believe everyone should feel the same – happiness is like adrenaline. It’s an addiction. You have adrenaline junkies; you have happiness junkies.
But, like a rush of adrenaline, happiness is fleeting – it’s an emotion; a rush of fucking dopamine. There’s physically no way to constantly be on-top-of-the-world happy. (And, honestly, how exhausting would that be?) Chasing happiness constantly, always aiming to outdo yourself and stuff every second with amazing experiences, is . . . I don’t know. It doesn’t, to me, seem like real life. Where there’s a high, there’s a low.
Sometimes I look at people doing just that and I think “inauthentic”. When you start chasing happiness for the sake of saying that you’re happy, how can you truly know that’s what you want? Are you actually happy? How can you truly appreciate an experience if you’re only doing it to impress someone else? To say that you’ve done it? For the sake of “having memories to look back on”? For the sake of a fun Instagram post and a Snapchat story?
Not only that, it’s not sustainable. It’s not real. It’s something I genuinely worry about – people expect to always be happy. Work doesn’t make me on top of the world happy, so I’m going to quit. A job that does make me happy has started to feel dull, so I’m going to quit. My boyfriend is nice, but he isn’t movie-hero nice, so I’m going to quit. My husband and I get along well, but that “spark” isn’t there at the moment and I’m not as happy as I was when we first met, so I’m going to quit. There’s no staying power; no commitment.
The act of chasing means that you’re always going to be running. You’re always wanting more. Whether that’s money, drugs, adrenaline or happiness. You will always wake up one day thinking about the grass that’s greener over there.
Which is precisely why I don’t aim for “happy”.
I don’t know if any of you will remember my post Beautiful Words That I Want Tattooed, but this is one of the first words that I want tattooed – sophrosyne. This is how I choose my happiness. This is how I decide if I want to go clubbing or read a book – and, you guys know me, I love a good music festival (I’ve posted about two this year) and a good house or drum-and-bass club night – by trying my hardest to stay true to myself and what I want. What will make me happy. But in moderation and self-control. While it would have made me happy for a few moments to go out last night, I was tired, I’ve been out already twice this week and I have a good weekend planned. In all likelihood, it would spoil the rest of the weekend . . . and I just wasn’t feeling going out.
I don’t chase happiness; I choose contentment.
In every step of my life, I (try) to choose to be present and comfortable. Happiness is an emotion – and it’s one othat I feel blessed to experience often and profoundly – but that’s it. I don’t want to spend my life constantly looking forward to the next thing and rushing through things in order to tick off a mental checklist: I want to spend my life satisified. I want to spend it content.
You know what this means? It means that I’m excited for my future; I’m excited to go on holidays and be married and enjoy university and travel . . . but it means that I’m more than happy in the present. Savouring the present. It means that I wake up every day with the knowledge that I enjoy my life. That, while I am always planning and working towards a future, my happiness isn’t tied into it. If that plan falls through, if I don’t get into university, if I never meet “the one” . . . I’ll still be content. I’ll still enjoy my life.
My emotional baseline is neutral; it’s mellow. Stable. Comfortable. And that is where I want it to stay.
This post ended up being a lot longer (and far more incoherent) than I thought it would be. I just have a lot of thoughts and ideas swirling around in my head, you know? I didn’t even really capture what I was trying say.
Anyways, I’m thinking of introducing a new segment into my blog: Wellness and Health. This would cover spirituality, personal thoughts and opinions, mental health etc. It’s an idea I’ve toyed with before, but kind of dismissed thinking that people wouldn’t be interested. However, one of the things that I love about starting this new blog is that it gives me a chance to be really authentic; I don’t have a massive niche audience that will be disappointed if I try something new – you guys are growing with the blog.
Let me know what your thoughts on that; I know this was a wildly disorganised post, but did any resonate with you? Share your ideas down below!