It feels like we are constantly bombarded with messages of self help. Everywhere I look recently, I see a new way to improve upon the way I live my life—how to work out better, how to eat better, how to cook better, how to be more sustainable, how to be more organized, how to save the whales, on and on and on. This stuff overwhelms me, and while I like to think I take it all with a grain of salt, every so often it gets in my head a little.
I start questioning my daily practices, and when I try to compare my lifestyle with all the mantras of “the right way to do such-and-such,” I get intimidated. Because frankly, it feels like I’m doing just about everything wrong.
Sure, I know that these are mostly just marketing schemes, and I can dismiss a great deal of them, however I’ve been realizing lately that there are certain “you should do”s that are constantly lingering in the back of my head. And once these ideas of “changes I should be making but haven’t yet” get planted in my brain, I have a really hard time letting myself off the hook.
I beat myself up over the fact that I “know” I should make a certain change, but never do. Some of these things are small, some are bigger; some are personal habits, and some are driven by the All Powerful Voice of Society. And the fact of the matter is—some of these are changes that actually should be made, I will fully admit that. That’s not what this post is about though.
No. This post is about accepting the fact that there are habits I will never change, and I’m going to forgive myself for it.
The thing is, a lot of the things I shame myself for are completely harmless and distinguishable only to me. They aren’t necessarily right or wrong, they are just small habits that I’ve decided to spend way too much energy stressing over. And why?
I’ve decided to let myself off the hook and focus my attention on more important matters—like the changes I can make that would actually make an impact. I’m finding it incredibly self-centered to spend so much time trying to tweak the way I live my life so it fits in this perfect little mold that our culture deems “worthy,” when in fact that mold is going to change again next week when there’s another way to organize our desks or eat our cereal or lift weights.
I’m thinking that maybe if I break up with these nagging notions of bettering myself, I’ll be able to exit the confines of my head a bit and focus on more important matters.
So, with that said, I give you Habits I’m Never Going to Stop, and I’m Okay With It.
I have heard every single argument about why humans shouldn’t eat dairy, and to be honest I agree with some of them. And way back when during injury days, when I needed something to focus on besides being depressed about not running, I did a 3-week cleanse where I gave up a whole lot of stuff—dairy included. Truthfully, I felt great. But is this for life? No.
I don’t have very much dairy—I drink soy milk in my coffee and use almond milk in my cereal—but the fact of the matter is I love yogurt, ice cream, and cheese, and I’m not going to give them up.
I am always hard on myself with this one, especially since there have been points in time when I’m surrounded by “OMG why would you poison your body with…cheese?!?!” people. No offense vegan friends, but I consider myself a healthy enough eater to keep dairy on my plate. So I will enjoy my fro-yo and my grilled cheese sandwiches, and I will not feel any guilt about it.
– Eating dinner in front of the TV
I know every single study and their mom screams at everyone that “You eat 500% more when you eat in front of the TV.” Blah, blah, blah…I understand. However, the time I spend having dinner and watching Jeopardy with BF is one of my favorite parts of the day—and considering we don’t have a family of people to catch up with and together spend plenty of time conversing during other parts of the day, this one is gonna slide.
Sure, this might come to a stop someday, but for now I will shout out answers to Alex Trebek’s questions with a mouth full of food.
– Not wearing real clothes every day
My definition of real clothes means something outside of yoga pants, half-zips, and running shoes. This is, as you can probably tell, the combination of attire I put together quite frequently, and I always get so down-and-out about it. But hey—guess what—I work from home, and this is probably the last point in time in my life that I will be able to work in whatever I feel like. I need to give this one up and accept that Starbucks doesn’t care if I’m not completely put together every day of the week.
–Taking samples out of the bulk bins at grocery stores.
You can judge me for this one, it’s okay. Except that we’ve all done it, and yes—as a 23-year-old adult I still do it. And I’m not going to stop. There’s something so fun about a mini snack while grocery shopping.
And on that note…
– Choosing grocery stores because I know there will be samples
As I’ve mentioned probably many times before, I love samples, and I fully believe that all grocery stores would benefit from providing a few samples throughout the day. With that said, I always think I’m a mooch/fat kid for going to grocery stores because I know there will be a sample available. However, after discussing this with a few people, I’m learning I’m not the only one who does this—and in fact,everyoneloves samples.
The sample-motivated grocery shopping stays.
– Shopping at BP in Nordstrom
For those of you who don’t know, BP is the junior’s section of Nordy’s, and I feel embarrassed every time I go in there. I’m at that weird age where the junior’s clothes can look too young, the women’s clothes can look too old, and I’m armed with a credit card that is really only looking for things on sale.
Now, I will fully admit that my wardrobe can grow up a bit. However, I believe that I can still spend my shopping hours in the BP department, so long as I make non-high-school clothing decisions. I can afford BP, and I like to think I can make it look older than the girls who shop their with their mommies.
So until I can hire a personal shopper, I’ll stick with what I know—and oh, do I know BP.
– Not buying expensive jeans or shoes
I’ve heard it over and over and over again. “Expensive jeans will change your life,” and “You’re ruining your feet with cheap shoes.” I know, I know…and I actually think I’m in the minority for not owning any Sevens or Pages or whatever those $200 denim wizards call them. I’m not buying jeans from Forever 21, but I don’t think I need to shell out a ton of money for a decent pair of pants. I’ve had the same two pairs of jeans for almost two years now, they are in great shape, and they were each under $100.
As for shoes, this does not apply to running shoes. Give me a comfy and dependable pair of sneaks and I’ll hand you all the money in my wallet. But as for heels, flats, boots, etc…no, sorry, I just can’t do it. I’m not a total cheapskake with shoes, but I cannot justify spending the amount of money some people do for shoes. I’ve tried—and all that happens is I think of all the races I could register for, the cookies I can buy, and the money I could put toward all my loans, and I just can’t do it.
And it’s okay. I’m forgiving myself for not shelling out for “the good stuff,” no matter what all you fashionistas say about it.
–Reading celebrity gossip magazines
As an English major and lover of books, I always scoff at myself for reading and (gasp!) buying gossip magazines. I always think, “You should be reading a book, listening to a news podcast, writing in your journal” instead. This is chronic; whether I’m reading an US Weekly on a plane, or flipping through an In Touch at the gym, I am so incredibly self-aware and embarrassed.
But guess what? I love these magazines, no matter how shameful I feel. And when I go to the airport, I look forward to a trip into Hudson News and selecting the most enticing publication featuring rich content such as Kim Kardashian’s Workout Secrets, The Truth Behind Justin’s Proposal to Jessica, and The Oscar’s Best Dressed. I love that shit, and I’m not going to stop.
I love nonfiction, fiction, biographies, plays, and the gossip of Hollywood’s rich and famous. It’s who I am, and I’m going to hold my head high.
After beginning to compile this list, I was frightened at just how many things there are in my life that I stress over. I’m realizing more and more just how much our marketing culture capitalizes on the fact that humans are so frickin’ self-serving, and as soon as we hear a message directed toward “us” we immediately become consumed with egotistical thoughts.
I know it’s human nature, and we’re all 100% guilty of it, but I think if we start to question the “what to do” and “what not to dos” a bit more, and forgive ourselves for the small nuances that don’t really alter our character, we can focus our energy more outward.
It’s a lot easier to appreciate the people, places, and general joie de vie around us when we’re less stressed about the things we so often get hung up on. Forgive yourself for the habits you have that you obsess over. Chances are, they add to the things that make you you.
What is a habit you aren’t going to change and be okay with? What are you going to forgive yourself for?