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I woke up this morning with the urge to completely reinvent myself.
Maybe it’s the “new year, new me” mentality that’s flying around this time of year, or maybe it really is something deep inside of me coming to the surface. Either way, I did what anyone who wants to reinvent themselves does:
Create a Pinterest board of everything I wish I was, get lost on Instagram looking at other people’s flawless style and class, and spend too much money at Free People (based solely on how the model looks in the clothes) to “revamp” my whole wardrobe in one fell swoop.
I can’t be the only person who feels permanently stuck in analysis paralysis when it comes to any life decision—big or small.
“I have to go to the grocery store.” Well, not until I spend two hours making a meal plan and looking up other people’s recipes online.
“I really want a new pair of jeans that fit me well.” Wait! You need to get lost in a web of Agolde, Free People, Abercrombie & Fitch and Good American influencer profiles until you find the ones you like best.
“Maybe I could start a side hustle and open a printable shop on Etsy!” Um, don’t you want to go on Pinterest first to look up all the “do’s and don’ts” of selling printables online, pine over the stories of six figures made in six months with only 10 hours a week, and gather inspiration?
“I want to start a workout routine.” But how will you decide between low impact, weight-lifting, HIIT, pilates, at-home workouts, group workouts, Zumba, yoga, cycling, the Tracy Anderson Method, your favorite fitness influencer’s new app, or taking up marathon running?
We are absolutely inundated with trending songs, DIY project ideas, how-tos, OOTDs, GRWMs, WIEIADs, and so on. And we are consuming all of this content at a truly alarming rate.
It’s studied and well-documented that social media can have a massive impact on mental health. From misinformation and the “comparison trap,” to cyber bullying and self-objectification, social media has really become a platform for people—especially our youth—to subconsciously feel like sh*t about themselves.
But one thing I’m becoming increasingly aware of and that I think is a scary truth of our current culture:
I am 34 years old, and it feels like I haven’t had an original or independent thought for a decade.
I don’t just pick up a paint brush anymore to create what’s in my heart. I don’t just dance for the fun of it. For a long time, I didn’t even know what my own personal style was or the type of clothes I felt my best in. And don’t get me started on the ever-present internal debate over being plant-based for my health.
It’s as if our current wave of “what’s trending” has completely obliterated our ability to do the things that make us uniquely, well, us. We can no longer simply check in with ourselves and know who we are, what we want, and how to make it happen.
And that, in its own right, is wreaking havoc on a part of our mental health that is often overlooked: creativity and individual expression.
So what do we do about it?
Well, if it was a quick and easy fix, I likely would have fixed it myself by now. So, I think we have some work ahead of us. Because as amazing as creative independence sounds, there is something freakishly addicting about watching other people live out our versions of perfection.
But not all hope is lost.
I’ve come up with a list of challenges (not resolutions) that can put us all on the path of expression and individuality:
1. Put down the phone. This seems like a no-brainer, but again, addiction and doom scrolling are a real thing. This is perhaps the hardest task on my list, even though it seems like the easiest. Utilize some of the awesome app-blocking technology that’s out now to keep you from accessing your socials. Delete the shopping apps on your phone so you have to think twice about mindlessly spending. Make it a chore to be on your phone instead of something simple!
2. Make a list. Think about some of the things that you love doing, or that you’d love to try, and make a list of them! This way, when you’re feeling a creative lull, you can pull inspiration from your own list.
3. Try on your clothes. Online shopping has become hella easy, and clothes have become hella cute. But basing what looks best on us and what fits with our style on a model in a photo is not practical. We are all shapes and sizes, and we love that! So head to a fitting room to see what truly speaks to you.
4. Create…without monetizing. It’s really interesting how we’ve morphed into a society that thinks we can only do enjoyable things if they’re made into a side hustle (see my thought on Etsy printables above). But what would happen if you picked up a paint brush (or a pencil, or charcoal, or mod podge and some old magazines), and just let it rip? And instead of opening an online shop, gift them to your friends for an upcoming holiday? Magic, that’s what.
5. Read. And I don’t mean personal development books. I love you, Mel Robbins, but this list is about dipping your toe into the fountain of you and celebrating how great you and your mind are…as is. I mean fictional books, poetry books, young adult literature, something sleazy! Let your imagination run wild. Visualize the words your taking in.
6. Meet people in real life. Don’t compare yourself to them or think that they’re way cooler than you (spoiler alert: you’re cool too!). But get to know them. Listen. Learn. And get inspired by them in your own way. Meet someone who is a master herbalist. Are you super intrigued? Ask them their easiest tincture recipe and head home to create it…with your own spin. Not only does it get your creative juices flowing, it gives you something to talk about with your new friend.
7. Cook. I love cookbooks and food bloggers; I won’t lie. But this challenge is for you to make up your own recipe. What are herbs and spices you love? What is your comfort food? Think of the things you love, and go wild! What a creative (and delicious) expression of self.
This is just scratching the surface, my friends. Creativity is literally yearning to pour out of us…we just have to give it the air time it deserves.
Now if you need me, I will be celebrating the fact that I wrote this piece from the depths of my own brain and soul. And for the first time in a decade, I created something that I can call my own.