Gratitude, mindfulness and a kale-based diet do not make you a better person

Finding the pros of getting older is not always as easy as the encouraging-older-woman brochures would have you believe. I know because I’ve tried. I realised it was time when I reached that age where my friend’s parents are dying and it’s not considered tragic because they’ve lived long, full lives. I’m at the age where I wake up in the morning and try and remember whether my eyes took this long to adjust the day before. I’ve reached that age where going to the doctor for a check up is more necessity than luxury.

And the only real positive I can pin my hopes on is that I no longer feel the strong need to excel. You may call it fatigue or abandoning hope but I like to think it’s a realistic grip on maturity.

My abandonment of perfection has led me to come up with a couple of self-help rules for the mature mind

Stop trying to be strong all the time

It’s okay not to be strong all the time. It’s perfectly acceptable to be human and to admit weakness and to just sit down for a bit and take in some air (and trashy TV and a box of chocolates). You don’t need to fall into the trap of finding an impossible veneer of strength in every situation, you are good enough without it.

Insisting on strength suggests a harshness that is able to sustain and bear hardship, I’ve become a strong advocate for surrendering a bit of that strength and giving in to accept comfort and warmth and help.

It’s okay to be mediocre

49 years of thinking I had to be brilliant at everything I did has left me slightly frazzled and also quite sure it’s impossible. The truth is it’s actually unmanageable to be good at everything and it really doesn’t matter. There are some things you will excel at, some things you will be absolutely lousy at and hundreds of things you will be mediocre at — those mediocre things (and even those lousy things) don’t define you.

You don’t need to seize every day

It’s a bit like being told to be strong all the time. It’s tiring and annoying and the weight of expectation can be suffocating. Some days are just days that you get through to get to the better ones. Don’t be harsh on yourself if some days .you just want to make a blanket fort and nest there awhile.

You may not love your body

Here’s something that has led to a fair bit of self-hatred over the years, that illusive pursuit of self-love and body acceptance. Of course I’m not urging you to just give in and punish your body or to actively hate anything about yourself, but if some days you are pissed off with your protruding stomach or frustrated over your flabby arms it’s okay. Learning to love and accept your body is a tremendous feat but if don’t achieve it, it doesn’t mean you are a failure.

Being unhappy doesn’t make you a lesser person

For some years I lived by the “fake it till you make it” mantra and as much as would love to believe it’s the path to truly being happy, in reality it’s just very tiring. And it didn’t work for me. But, I did realise that it’s okay to be unhappy or sad or imperfect, it’s not a sin to be scared and anxious and in need of comfort. If people can’t accept the unhappy you maybe they need to work harder on acceptance than you do on pretending to be something that you’re not.

Gratitude, mindfulness and a kale-based diet do not make you a better person

It’s quite fine not to tabulate everything you are grateful, not to be able to still your mind and to hate kale and prefer buttery toast or fried food. While all these #blessed Instagrammable moments may help some people deal with anxiety or feel better about their bodies or souls if you don’t do them it just means you don’t do them — it doesn’t mean anything else.

If there’s a better way to end a post about not listening to inspirational bullshit than throwing out some my own, I don’t know it — so feel free to live your life the best way you can, choose your battles and go easy on yourself.

Tomorrow is another day.

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