Reclaiming my body pt.1 : Instagram

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been grappling with a realization: no one cares what I post on Instagram. No one cares because I’m neither a renowned artist nor a talentless influencer hawking overly edited images of their “fascinating life.” And if no one cares about what I post, especially on a platform that feeds off of the constant absorption of the viewers precious time and attention, then why do I do it? 

At the beginning of the year, an old-but-still-kicking method of life improvement known as the Happiness Project helped transform my life. As recommended in the Happiness Project, I created a few personal commandments to live by and have been holding to them ever since. One such commandment (later added after it kept intercepting my progress) is to love myself more, by truly appreciating my body for what it is. And of course, the best way to begin is by weeding out the deeply anchored roots of the patriarchy. During one particularly eye opening and exciting bout of feminist literature and empowering discussions I asked myself why, after knowing how social constructs destroy my self confidence, do I still believe that my body was just not right? Why did I feel it was okay to perpetually critique my appearance, especially when others always saw me in a much better light? Loving one’s self, with all the cellulite, dark circles, stretch marks, lower belly fat, and every other thing society has consistently been telling me to hide, has proven to be a difficult feat. And that’s coming from me, a woman quick to bash the patriarchy and uplift my friends. So why can’t I uplift myself? I’ll save you the suspense and admit that I still don’t have an answer to that. In truth, it may take many years to find it, but at least the question has been asked and the process begun.

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Happiness Project: Setting boundaries or letting go

This particular commandment is especially difficult because I constantly struggle with it across most, if not all, of my relationships. When I was younger, it manifested itself mainly in romantic situations, but now, not being able to let go has become deeply entrenched in me.

By “letting go,” I don’t mean that I’m a toxic person that will not allow others to leave my side or grow, nor that I have difficulty letting go of toxic relationships (not anymore anyways). But rather, I heavily lack the ability to know when to step back and set boundaries– and my mental bandwidth is strained more each time. For example, I’m sure we all have loved ones that seek us to ask for help or advice. In fact, it’s normal and healthy to ask for advice or mentorship from others we believe have our best interest in mind. Now, we also have been or know people who decide to not take our advice and continue living with the issue. Enter Isabelle, offering countless options on how to improve, always based on my experience, literature, science, or anecdotes. One of two things usually occurs… they:

  1. Come back with the same problems a few weeks or months later or
  2. Don’t listen
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Objective: Happiness

Before I launch into this, I want to share a disclaimer. I am part of that less than 20% to be fortunate enough to work from home. Really, to have a job, and to remain safe while doing it. Because I have this basic and vital security, I am safely able to divert my attention to this project. 

Ahh, 2020. How painfully unforgettable you are… it seems as if everything awful that could have happened did. This endless pandemic from hell is bad enough to blur the rest of the past four, tortuous years on its own. I won’t rant much more on the subject– we all know how it’s been.

As 2020 neared its end, I began to regret the time I wasted. Why didn’t I invest when the market dropped in March? Or why hadn’t I saved more– in fact, where were my savings? These and other questions swirled in my head, making me feel worse each time. I shared my distress with a friend who tried to comfort me:  “It’s okay. It was a difficult and unusual year. You needed to cope and take care of yourself to the best of your ability.” She was right, of course. I had to stop being so hard on myself. It’s not like I could reverse time (not to mention that going back to March 2020 sounds like a complete nightmare).

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