by Adwitya Taneja
(Uttar Pradesh, India)
Emotions, Perceptions, Ideas change. As society sprints from one latest development to another, the inability to keep up with the fast pace of life, is a common quandary most of us experience. The speed of time cripples us as moments, people, places, become memories. Nostalgia withholds us to seek solace in the present as it drowns us in the unending longing for “what was.”
The self-love movement has accelerated by leaps and bounds since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With rise in mortality rates, people all across the globe experienced, what I like to call ‘a collective introspection’ making them tie the loose ends of the mutual feeling of dread; experienced at the end of a tiresome 9-5, an unhealthy relationship, troubled health or even a general sense of disillusionment from the daily grind even if it is by societal standards; flourishing.
Apart from several changes brought upon by the pandemic in social milieu be it economy, politics or global health, one cannot help but acknowledge the deep sense of existentialism it has stimulated in many.Until a tide of time overrides this draining existentialism with posts, reels, podcasts, tik-toks, jolting people out of the toxicity of similitude, affirming the possibility of embracing positivity, self-love and doing the ‘inner work’ of scrimmaging through our traumatized sub-conscious as a lease to a new life, one where dreams are not meant just for sleep.
The result has been the gazillion reels on your Instagram feed showing elated strangers swinging into the sunshine with their travel hacks, airfare quick fixes and go to moves for the best way to fit in a Europe trip under 500 dollars this summer. All the while you wonder sitting at your fairly tolerable, occasionally pleasant, all and all a secure 9-5, put behind invisible jail bars for not letting your hair down and jump into a reality of starting a small business, becoming an Instagram creator or even starting a podcast!
Don’t get me wrong, it’s this sudden upsurge of positivity and enthusiasm towards ‘seizing life with both hands’ that makes many appreciate and love what their 9-5 holds for them along with giving those who aren’t fully content the courage to quit and chance one’s arm. But it is to say, that self-love isn’t the only kind of love that is showered on Instagram in color, some days it can be as basic as black and white.
From making an extra sweet coffee for yourself on Monday mornings to sleeping in at 9:30pm on a weekend also counts as self-love. The idea that your self-love isn’t as true, as those quitting jobs to become full time travelers isn’t enough to reduce your tiny efforts to be kinder to yourself.
The self-love movement has urged people to investigate their life from an aerial view, allowing them to identify and work on areas that no longer fulfill them. This collective awakening brought upon by social media, through inspirational podcasts as backgrounds to adventurous reels or simply seeing someone meditate to the legendary sound of ‘Mel Robbins- What if it all works out’ mantra is enough to jolt you from an autopilot of scrolling and pause for a second to feel. Feel your breath, and introspect.
This change in the outlook towards ‘what life should look like’, ‘the important decisions’ or even ‘the mighty feared 5-year plans’ people had, have changed.
Fear and failure, are the first two words that come to mind for most while figuring out their own pace of life, in which we often stumble, run and fall. What is most intriguing is that when we find ourselves in these phases, we tend to believe in the illusion that, that is the only way forward. When the rhythm of life is slow and we find ourselves taking teeny-tiny steps, we criticize ourselves for not moving faster, when we run endlessly till we are out of breath, we crave to walk, and if on the way we stumble and fall; we end up believing that we won’t ever get up.
We live in a world within a society that teaches us a spectrum of success and failure. Now instead of climbing the ladders, the self-love movement has brought in perspective the importance of the ‘I’. More than what ‘is the right thing’, people have now begun to live by ‘what is right for me?’, allowing them to show themselves grace in times of turmoil and grief.
Our beliefs, our opinions, our dreams, our doubts, our entire beings are perishable because people change, time brings experiences that compels us to think, question, criticize, reevaluate and contemplate once again of what we seek from life. The pandemic has manifested this phenomenon on a massive scale. Now the difference is that instead of an isolated guru in the middle of a forest or in a cave in the Himalayas; it is a millennial or a gen z scooped inside their bed in a sky scraper.
Our ability to perish and redefine ourselves is a good thing. Why? Because it speaks of our agency, our ability to choose, to redo and undo what we believe in and that in itself is the greatest form of love, a love that allows you to change and choose.
In the journey of beginning to digest the idea that loving oneself too is a possibility, we begin to inch closer to closure and realize that our demoralizing self-perception, self-criticism, society’s judgment or unsolicited advice are all as I like to call them ‘perishable goods’.
In a world which has recently re-evaluated the cost of life after two years of a pandemic, with many gradually taking the small steps towards re-modelling the lens of contemplating life from the point of stability, security and performance to one of risk, adventure and joy, there is scope for that person that we knew ourselves to be; to perish and re-grow into something new, someone new, someone just a little bit more in love with themselves.*****