How do we draw the line in maintaining dignity and satisfaction while avoiding self-sabotage? How deeply are others impacted by our desire to live our best lives?
This post is not intended to speak down on others. The intention of this post is to broaden the reader's perspective by considering the dissonance that exists within the paradigms of self love and self care. It is highly recommended that you approach this post with an open mind, and an open heart; only there can expansion take place.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say 'just let me be great' in the past few years alone, I would certainly be a millionaire. But in the defense of humankind, the colloquial phrase isn't always in reference to some convoluted bullshit scheme on a stick. It's usually in reference to people not wanting to be judged for their choices, regardless of where said choices fall on the scale of how absurd, or how relatable.
On the breeziest of afternoons in May, I decided to treat myself to a bit of lower tier R&R. I filled my thermos with some herbal tea, my favorite snacks, and visited one of my favorite local parks. While I was posted on the bench, cracking unsalted pistachios and admiring the aquatic fowl bask in their natural habitat (sidebar: ducks and geese are some of the most graceful little beings), I was unfortunately distracted by some sidebar conversation. I was low key feeling a way due to the fact that I had showed up to nature watch, not people watch. As quiet as it's kept, when I'm in the mood to people watch, I post up at coffee shops. In any case, I was paying attention to the ducks and their babies, as I overheard the conversations of melinated women discussing what they do for self-care because apparently, that's hot right now. They appeared millennial aged, all with varying opinions about the proper way to dote on oneself. Strangely enough the common consensus: do whatever makes you feel good, whatever makes you feel happy.
Without going into too much detail on what each woman described as self-care, I thought about how the overall definition as interpreted by society is just one hectic ass melange. But I mean, sure, power to diversity! Ehh, then again, no. It's like society encourages you to prioritize yourself, but not at the expense of ignoring their desire to suck you dry. They say love yourself, but not too much to the point where you prevent them from taking advantage of you. Take pride in who you are, but don't make others uncomfortable with your self-awareness. Where do we draw the line?
As I sat there swinging my feet, I thought about the inconsistencies in the realm of self-love/self-care over the past few years...
Intravenous self love
The 2020 global health crisis brought to my attention that society has selective outlooks on self-preservation. Those who refused to blindly take immunizations were demonized and considered a threat to their loved ones just for exerting their own constitutional rights. Others were simply observing their religious beliefs, or making decisions based on facts derived from research and historical events. Where is the detriment exactly? It's been made clear that when you exercise the ability to think for yourself and put your own health and wellness first, you are offending those who blindly believe what they're told. America says, "yes, love yourself and do you", but not at the expense of allegedly hurting or harming other people. Even if there isn't a clear pathway as to how the damage takes place.
People who identified as "pro vaxers" treated "anti vaxers" worst than pregnant prostitutes and pedophiles. Extreme perhaps, but you get the picture. It has been utter mayhem on earth based on how differently people chose to treat themselves. Mind you, we're not talking about people snorting lines of cocaine on the playground. But many have argued that considering ones health on such a high magnitude is a byproduct of self-love. So why should people be forced to defend their perspective to others that don't even respect them? Where is the line drawn?
Augmented self love
I noticed something similar within the world of plastic surgery. It's become widely accessible to everyone in the last ten years, whereas before it was mostly cut out for elites and the wealthy. However, surgeons are accepting various forms of medical credit; you can put new breasts on layaway, or choose to spend directly out of pocket. For as long as I can remember, boob jobs and liposuction were popular amongst performing and recording artists, models, talk show hosts, and the girlfriends/wives of athletes. These days though, everyone is getting their bodies modified in some capacity, whether it be breast implants, fat transfer, lip fillers and injections, dimpleplasty, rhinoplasty, or permanent veneers. The most intense of them all, iris color change surgery. There seems to be no limits as to what people are willing to do. Women are carving themselves up to fit within a hyperrealistic interpretation of the feminine form.
As someone who's had a lumpectomy I can't imagine going under the knife and being put to sleep for something that wasn't impeding on my quality of life. For someone to say that undergoing plastic surgery is self-care is a little... bewildering. Between the risk factors that are imposed upon your health due to foreign substances, the recovery time, not to mention the temporary results, and the permanent psychological impacts. When you question someone's intent for plastic surgery, it's often rooted in insecurity, not loving themselves enough to accept themselves for what they have. Though plastic surgery is completely voluntary, it usually only impacts the person having the procedure done... of course that excludes the women who died due to BBL surgeries. Where is the line drawn?
Plant-based self love
Why do vegans even exist in the first place? To my recollection, mainstream vegan-ism was rooted in the vein of protecting and preserving the animals by saving them from slaughterhouses and stopping animal testing. But for a while, a certain demographic began to omit meat and dairy from their diets in the interest of improving their health. Somewhere along the way, vegan-ism became this ultra-mainstream popularized trendy marketing scheme with a variety of call to actions. Most of which led away from the produce section, and straight to the isles containing processed meats and fake cheese. The biggest disharmonious component of the vegan movement: is where people are prioritizing animal health, and not considering the long term and potential side effects that certain chemicals will have on their bodies. Society is willing to bastardize fruits and vegetables in the vein of trying to save the animals. Money, and sometimes animal rights depending on the community, will always be more important than a person's health, so it seems. Therefore I ask, where do we draw the line?
"Do what makes you happy, so long as it doesn't hurt other people"
"Fuck what people have to say, do what you love and love what you do"
In my three decades on this earth, I have seen a variety of ways that self-sabotage and self-care can cause a ripple effect in relationships of varying dynamics. The very thing that brings you pleasure can also hurt other people that love and care about you. Just as the very thing that liberates and satisfies you can impact your relationship with other people, or how you contribute to society.
Maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself isn't necessarily the easiest, but when you are aware of your intent and goals in life, it's possible to obtain a greater sense of purpose through the things that nourish you. Dissonance may exist, but the further you dig deeper within yourself, you'll be able to decrease the margin between where you are and where you'd like to be on your self love journey.
Comment below one practice that has helped you love yourself better.
until next time,
peace + purple