Right. This post has been buzzing around my head for months.
The reason I haven’t released it from the confines of my brain until now is that it’s really difficult to get across how I feel without sounding hugely negative and cynical. But that said, I just want it out there.
The short story is: I don’t want to improve myself.
I don’t want to hone my way of thinking, eating, organising or just doing general life stuff in order to be more productive, ‘happier’, more mindful or more minimalist. I really don’t. But looking through my blog feed, the number of posts which strive to instruct me on how to do so has increased exponentially over the last 12 months, to the point where almost every day I come across some sort of list of ‘16 easy steps’ to help me edit my instagram photos more mindfully, or some other bafflingly niche self-improvement imperative.
There are so many reasons I find this trend annoying. So. Many. But so that this post doesn’t devolve into a punctuationless rant, I’ll list them out in bullet points. So here you have it: 3 Must-Read Reasons Why Self-Improvement Posts Are Totally Ridiculous (You Won’t Believe Number 2!).
We’re all turning ourselves into buzzfeed, and that’s not a good thing.
Yes, lists are an easy format to organise thoughts into (look at me writing a list right now like a hypocrite!) and yes, list-style writing is popular right now, mainly because Buzzfeed has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that lists get clicks. And clicks = moolah. And if you blog for a living you need people to click. So far so understandable. But (and it’s a big but) if we all reduce ourselves to the lowest clickable denominator, all the interesting stuff starts to evaporate. There are so many super smart, funny, informative and thoughtful people writing blogs right now, but a lot of their individuality is being swallowed up by the irresistible lure of the listicle. I think that’s a shame. A huge shame actually.
How much more conscious process can we apply to what should be inconsequential, reflexive parts of our everyday lives?
Do we really need to optimise, minimise, organise and diarise how we eat, sleep, and talk to people? Like really? Can we not just do this stuff however we happen to do it? Why are we, as women (which lifestyle bloggers predominantly are) putting all this extra pressure on ourselves to do everything - even really niche stuff that literally does not matter at all - perfectly? Why are we constantly striving for better ways to be, in areas of life where we should be able to just be?
Why are we all fooling ourselves
into thinking that systematising our emotions and trying to control the minutiae of our daily lives just through sheer force of will is going to make us happier? It won’t. In fact, I would be willing to bet that anyone trying to actually follow even half of the ‘how to’ advice currently in circulation online would be one hell of a highly stressed individual. Why do we all seem to think that we need this? And why do we think it will work?
Why is ‘The Happiness Planner’ a thing? It is described on its website as ‘a planner designed to help you live a happier and more fulfilling life by mastering the art of positive thinking, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-development’. Excuse me but *whispers* er. . .WTF? No part of that sounds fulfilling in the slightest. It sounds like a big, onerous, unfun waste of time. I don’t know how we got here.
Just to further illustrate how out of hand this has got, I’m just going to list a few real post titles I have found with a quick scroll through bloglovin’. Prepare to laugh. These titles are all 100% real and unedited.
‘How To Find The Perfect Work And Social Life Balance’ Very ambitious indeed
‘25 Apps To Make Your Life Less Of A Struggle’ Christ. Bit dramatic
‘Why You Need To Establish A Night-Time Routine’ Oh sorry I thought I was running my life. Nvm
‘How To Deal With Criticism’ Super useful if you are a huge emotional mess I guess
‘3 Ways To Get More Out Of A Glass Of Water’ WT actual F?! Real title I swear to god
‘28 Habits You Should Strive To Adopt’ Oh come on guys it’s only 28 habits. Only twenty-eight
‘Why You Should Always Put Yourself First’ ie how to be a dick
‘Your Older Self Will Regret Not Having Done These Things’ Well f*ck. This is serious
‘How To Take Control Of Your Thoughts’ My personal favourite, and not even remotely possible in any real sense
Look, I think mindfulness can be helpful (I have an app for it! It helps me sleep, yay) and I enjoy yoga. I like to have a tidy bedroom, I find having some routine in my day helps things run smoother. I’m not against trying to do things in a way which makes life easier. But hasn’t this all got a bit silly now? Do we really need lists of pointers for how to conduct ourselves in every facet of the big fun mess which is life? Can we all go back to writing what we actually want to rather than reworking the same old clickbait over and over again? Please?
And if you’re finding you don’t measure up to the currently very high standards of the blogosphere please remember this: