I have been a bit dubious about entertaining the #MainCharacter, the #ThatGirl and other viral trends in the name of “self-help” because I have observed that they can often cause an adverse effect if not put into the right perspective. As harmless as it may seem to subscribe to these philosophies, it can also be easy for one to go down the rabbit hole creating unrealistic expectations and outcomes for their life by constantly obsessing over how to "upgrade" their life.
I have also found that the aesthetics associated with these trends are paired synonymously with a luxurious lifestyle. If you search on YouTube: "How To Be That Girl", nine times out of ten the thumbnail of the video will show a slim young woman drinking a matcha latte, wearing yoga pants, with an acacia bowl, doing Pilates in her perfectly minimalistic apartment. However, these images didn't really resonate with me because that's not what I aspire to.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of romanticising my life and having nice things and will indulge on occasion. Nevertheless, the realist in me is aware that life isn’t always picture-perfect. It’s unrealistic to assume that every part of our self-improvement journey can be captured in a clean-cut reel or TikTok video. We’re all starting at different places in our journey and for some, it may be messier than others. No matter how much one "thinks positively" and practices the law of attraction – things are bound to happen in life that is out of our control. The missing component with these trends is that they focus mainly on the surface but fail to address how to handle the times when our motivation peaks or how to cope mentally when life gets tough.
I was similarly sceptical about the “soft life” trend when I came across it on social media a few months ago. Just like the viral trends I’ve mentioned, the soft life had been presented to me as a life of luxurious living with maximum enjoyment and minimal effort which again, I did not subscribe to. However, when I saw someone post the definition of soft life on their Instagram story, I had an epiphany because this was the only self-help "trend" that I could relate to, and perfectly described the type of life I have always envisioned for myself.
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Growing up, I subconsciously learned that my needs had to be pushed to the side. And consequently, I found it challenging to set boundaries, speak up for myself and say no to others. The "soft life” wasn't a concept I would have entertained because I was in "survival mode". At the beginning of 2022, I was reflecting on my transition into my mid-twenties and I started to assess the type of woman I wanted to become and the mindsets/habits I had to assume in order to become her. I became intentional about rejecting the thought that a softer life was unattainable because deep down I knew this wasn’t true. I was ready to break free from the internal conflict between my thoughts, emotions, and identity that I'd dealt with for most of my life and was ready to welcome a life where things flowed seamlessly.
But, I had to be honest about where I was falling short. I had to mature and accept that I must act in coming out of my comfort zone today, to pave the way for a life of ease tomorrow.
Ultimately, I had to accept that soft life comes at a price. So, I have started asking myself questions like: what areas of my life do I not feel at peace? What have I made complicated that could be so easy? How can I continue cultivating more moments of happiness and joy? I have also made it a point to identify the things that I need to work on. From dealing with the feelings (such as guilt or fear) and repercussions that may arise when I communicate my boundaries with other to using my voice to speak up about the things that I disagree with or feel “off” to me immediately and to becoming quicker at making good decisions by trusting my gut. But also focusing on myself daily so that I can show up as the best version of myself for myself and in my relationships and loving and respecting myself by honouring my emotional, physical, and spiritual needs.
In theory, the things we need to do to improve our lives can be the simplest, but we’ve become so used to the struggle that at times it seems easier to deal with hardship because it is familiar. Nonetheless, I am choosing to commit to the things in my control. I am choosing to do the hard things now in exchange for a soft life later because the goal is not only to survive but to thrive.
Written by Tracy Winu Landu
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