Women of the 21st century are in a crisis.
We are living at the intersection of what we’re told to want, what we think we want, and what we truly want, stumbling to decipher each from the next.
The When-Then Perfectionist Cycle
Showered with the illusion that what will bring us happiness is just beyond our reach, we relentlessly chase after the perfect body, perfect relationship, perfect income, perfect family, perfect career, and essentially, perfect life. We are so focused on the pursuit of happiness that we unknowingly fall into the vicious cycle of “when-then”. When I am thin, then I will be happy. When I make this much money, then I will be happy. When I find someone to love me, then I will be happy. The list goes on and on, but eventually, what we come to find is that there is ALWAYS another when.
Enough is never enough and what we are told will bring us happiness, evidently fails time and time again.
Playing The Game Of Comparison
What we don’t realize, is that no matter what our when-then is, it will not bring us to where we want to be. But, living in the era of social media, with models and influencers around every corner, we are forced to play the game of comparison, leaving us feeling inadequate, self-conscious and uncertain of what or who it is we want to be.
I, like many other women, fell into this trap at the young age of thirteen, being convinced that this perfect body I now dreamed of would be the answer to all of my problems.
What took me nearly the rest of my teenage years to discover, was that I was never actually chasing a particular body, I was chasing the way I thought this body would make me feel. That I would feel confident, loved, respected, valued, desired, and proud. Never have I ever been so wrong.
What I came to realize was that a strong, fit, and healthy body does not come from restriction, punishment, or even discipline. That it is in fact only a side-effect of true health and love, not the goal itself. That you can have the most beautifully sculpted body and still be completely insecure in your own skin. Only once you start to whole-heartedly treat your body with the love and respect it deserves, nourishing it with real food, sleeping well, managing stress, moving daily, and taking time to do the things you love, will your body reward you.
A Lesson For Life
No matter what it is, every woman is fighting her own internal battle, but what is so beautiful about the struggles we face is that the lessons learned are so often applicable in all other areas of our lives. That we may learn some things the hard way, but they open our eyes to what we could not see and with this new perspective, we have the power to completely change our lives.“As above, so below” seems to be the truest statement of all when it comes to this concept of desire and achievement, meaning that if you want to achieve the externality of something, you need to first internally become that thing. That you cannot have one without the other.
When you think of things in this light, we have our goals completely backward. You do not lose 50 pounds so that you can love yourself and be happy with who you are. Only because you love yourself and are happy with who you are, you CAN lose the 50 pounds and keep it off. Only now, you do it from a place of self-love and respect, as you begin to embody a truly happy, healthy human being.
So, whether it is the appearance, relationship, income, or career you are after, I challenge you to ask yourself if this is your when-then.
Are you convinced that only when you have this thing, then you will be fulfilled, content, or satisfied with your life? That this is the one missing link? Is this something you truly want, or is it something you are conditioned to want, be it by social media, friends, family, or even society? Why do you really want it?
Get to the root of your desires and you may be surprised to find that you are trying to fit a mould that is not meant for you. That it is much better suited for, or truly belongs to someone else.
About The Author | Vanessa Oly
Vanessa is a holistic health and environmental sustainability enthusiast, studying at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada. Specializing in hormone balancing and microbiome function, she is passionate about the link between our daily lifestyle practices and their impact on our health and longevity, as well as the environment around us. Through public education and awareness, her goal is to dissolve the belief that human health optimization and environmental sustainability are conflicting destinations. By introducing practical and sustainable lifestyle changes and teaching the importance of voting with your dollar, she hopes to empower young women to take control of their health, while positively impacting the environment around them.