There is a myriad of ways to make yourself absolutely miserable. Here is a handful that I have tried out recently:
1) Reading “Web MD” and other health websites,in search of excellent information on better well-being. This usually promptsa self-diagnosis of several different illnesses, and leaves me wondering who will love my dogs when I am gone.
2) Living in Galway without some decent form of raingear. The result: walking around with hair plastered to my head like a bald bird, and constantly smelling like a wet dog. Then going home to read up on “Web MD” about how the cold I’ve caught could potentially kill me.
3) Putting the “pro” in procrastinating. The usual outcome: sitting at a desk with three weeks’worth of work to complete in three hours.
4) Completing said work, and deciding I deserve to put my feet up with a glossy magazine and “just one more” cup of coffee. How this typically pans out for me: Flicking pages to see all the things I can’t afford, and how skinny, beautiful and shiny I will probably never be.
5) Deciding I’ve had enough. That I need to end my dysfunctional relationship… with coffee. (You don’t want to know how this one pans out).
I’m not sure if you have tried any of these. However, I can assure you that each one is, in itself, afool proof way to go about making yourself absolutely feckin’ miserable. No really. I guarantee it!
But, not to worry! If you haven’t tried your hand at any of the above yet, or if you don’t think they are to your taste, don’t panic. There is another, extremely effective way that you can make yourself undeniably feckin’ miserable. And even better than that – you’ve probably already tried your hand at it. In fact, you’ve probably done it today. And yesterday. And the day before that. And the day….
That’s right. I’m talking about this vanity thing that has become oh so fashionable.
You might not believe me, and that’s okay.Often it happens that when something is in fashion, you part take in it without even realising. Like that time I wore a luminous pink skirt to a teenage disco. It looks and sounds horrendous now, but it was barely a conscious decision at the time. Pink luminous skirts were all in, they were what made us want to live forever… I’d even go as far as to say they were the norm!
And I’m telling you, the same may be applied to vanity. It is all in this season – I even saw it in my horrible glossy magazine.
On the third page of the magazine, lay this genetically fortunate woman – slender, incredibly shiny, with legs for days. I looked at her, and thought “Wow, beautiful … how happy and easy her life must be!” Of course, I didn’t stop to consider the professional photographers, make-up artists and hair stylists that constructed the image. I didn’t even spare a thought about how superficial the image was. I just moved swiftly on to comparing it to my own image, to myself.
And what did I get from this moment of self-importance? Yes, you’ve guessed it. Nothing but pure feckin’ misery.
Oh, you don’t read magazines? You don’t think that way? You aren’t vain, like me?
Don’t lie. I saw your Facebook page.
I saw it, and I thought “Wow, beautiful. How happy and easy their life must be!” I didn’t stop to think about how much time that was put into constructing this perfect image of yourself. The numerous angles and poses that you tried in order to get a profile picture as similar as possible to wonderfully symmetrical woman in the magazine. I didn’t even think about how low you felt when you didn’t reach 100 likes on that photo.
I didn’t think about how vain you were being. I was probably too busy being vain myself.
Don’t get me wrong. I acknowledge the power of image. I understand that it is important to create an online appearance that presents you as clean, confident and happy. I’m often mesmerized by how an Instagram filter or two can make my own life seem “happy and easy”… And I know oh too well the empowering sensation of a re-tweet. Throw in a snapchat filter for dramatic effect, and I’m even partial to the odd selfie! Our image is not the problem.
The problem is when we get too caught up in the vanity that goes hand in hand with image importance. When we find ourselves constantly sharing our lives online, with a craving to feel watched and admired, like washed down versions of celebrities. When we find ourselves persistently checking our online notifications for “like counts”, longing for somebody else to tell us we are beautiful, cool, smart … when we start to resemble children who seek encouragement and continual external validation.
That is when our vanity starts to grow, like bacteria. And so we find ourselves, or others, desperately trying to keep all the right conditions for growth. Comparing our images to the ones that flash before us everyday in magazines, and on our screens. That is when we find ourselves nursing brittle egos, when we find ourselves to be miserable.
But don’t worry! I am determined that this post will not just be another thing to add to the list of things that make us feel miserable. So, here is some good news:
1) If you have read this much of my slightly conflicted ramblings, and kind-of, sort-of understood it … you do not need a “retweet”, “follow”, “favourite”, or “like” to assure you that you are beautiful, cool, smart. I can tell you: you already are.
2) I had a little sneak peek at next week’s glossy magazine. Apparently, a lot of vanity is going to the dark hole that we all threw our pink luminous skirts into. This season it’s all about double denim, and humility.