I have an aversion to the capitalist lifestyle I find myself a part of. Everyday I wake up with the feeling of being coerced into work not actively benefiting my own desires or needs in order to have a room, a mattress, pillows, bedding, clothes, a dresser, hangers, curtains, a pot and pan, a bowl and mug, utensils, shampoo, conditioner, a brush, a phone, a laptop, electricity, internet, gas, basic food items, and so on.[i] Even someone as minimalist as I am benefits from the ease of having these comforts and understands that I must work in order to continue to experience them. But when did the objects around me become more important than my sanity; more important than calmly experiencing this short stint of consciousness I refer to as life? At what point did the need for these objects own me? And why does it feel like such a herculean task for me to accumulate such assets?
These are questions I intend to explore in the process of creating this blog. But I also hope to inspire others to question their own lifestyle, since most of us appear to be unsure of how to accurately deal with humanity’s newfound physical ease of life. Instead of being grateful for the excess that we have, many of us are striving for more external wealth and recognition or are struggling to be some conception of ourselves rather than be who we are in the moment. I witness all this striving (in both myself and in others) and I wonder how much happier we would all be if not just ourselves, but society and our close partnerships, allowed us to be comfortable naked, or messy, or smelly (because we all do smell), or irate, or sad, or horny. Life would be easier, and our relationships would likely improve.
I am not arguing that we should all impose our rank, anger, or sexual desires on others.[ii] Hiding these facets of ourselves is crucial for a functioning society. Until we can comfortably live within chaos, we will need to repress – and dress – ourselves. Taking away societal rules, regulations, and customs would be akin to demolishing all traffic signs.[iii] It would be messy, careless, and a poor decision. However, the everyday tasks needed to be presentable in society are enough to make the sanest of us feel insane. Instead of believing these tasks to be inherent in a normal, functioning adult, we should have more compassion and empathy for the necessary struggles that arise in a society that request that we repress our everyday needs and emotions while striving to be an impossibly flawless, successful version of ourselves.[iiii]
I don’t believe that freedom is absolute. It doesn’t come from being completely unattached. It comes from accepting the way that you are bound, the reasons you are bound, and taking the time to assess a situation and follow, place, and accept boundaries that are beneficial to your growth and wellbeing. A sense of freedom is only achieved when we eliminate the desire to control our surroundings, accept our circumstances as they are in the moment, and become comfortable in our ability to work with setbacks and dense emotions. It is easy to be content when life works according to our plan, which is why we envy successful people. But admiring them for their lives is often in err, as it is difficult to gauge whether they have cultivated the emotional intelligence to be content regardless of their external fortune. A content person can be happy even when they are stressed, hungry, irate, taken advantage of, rejected, unaccepted, poor, and so on; happenings that are part of any life, even the most fortunate of us. But being able to be happy during these times is an insurmountable task for most of us because, frankly, we don’t have much practice with it. What we do have practice with are feelings of fear and insecurity; fear of being unloved, rejected, financially insolvent, without a home. But those hardships are often never actively actualized, and if or when our fears and insecurities do actualize, we either fall apart and lose our place in society (since we haven’t cultivated the practice of being raw with ourselves and guiding our way out of hardship) or find our grit and inner peace and become a success story, sometimes even a sensational one.
So how do we fix our inner anxieties? Our depressions? How do we become content despite impossible adversity? I don’t have the answer, at least not the answer for everyone. But if you learn to be with your thoughts, needs, and emotions, let yourself be grateful for just being able to experience a moment, and be comfortable existing in that second of consciousness, I’m sure your personal answer will come to you with time. And perhaps that, the practice of just being instead of being an image of what you believe yourself and your surroundings to be, is the answer. The truth is, I am and I am not Sonia. I am and I am not musical. I am and I am not creative. I am and I am not entrepreneurial. I am just me. A series of experiences and expressions, malleable and different in any circumstance. My habits and personality are just that. Habits.
I no longer want to strive to be anything. I want to strive to live. For me, at the moment, that will be dealing with my fear and insecurities about fitting into a capitalist word, a fear that I am now willing to face head on. And starting this blog, along with attempting the daunting task of finding beta-readers, agents, and publishers for my novel, is perhaps the most daunting, arduous, and necessary task I have taken to face my issues and effectively place myself into the work, buy, and consume lifestyle I am part of.
[i] Writing down that list of bare essentials distressed me.
[ii] As I also do not purport that we give up our jobs, houses, and mattresses.
[iii] Unless viewed as a comparison, I am not a fan of extrapolation, as it tends to unify separate situations. So in this case, don’t apply traffic to societal rules, but rather see it as a compliment.
[iii] A Photoshopped body is not the only unattainable aspect society pushes on us. A completely carefree, stress-free mind is another ideal that is advertised to us and, consequently, expected of us and from us.
There is more to success than reaching a goal