Whether a travel blogger striving for Instagram fame, a celebrity living a life of reality telly luxury, or a student nurse wishing for that Gray’s Anatomy whisk away from reality, we all want a perfect lifestyle, right? The one where we can wake up excited for the day, have a great relationship with a significant other, be the best family member we possibly can be, be totally amazing at work, be able to shift into party mode at a moment’s notice, be a creative genius on the side, and manage all the boring life admin that comes with being a grown up.
We see it all the time on social media. We see primed and beautiful plump-lipped influencers smiling at their laptops in trendy East End coffee shops, or coyly playing with their hair while looking out of their fancy hotel window, or posing on ornate doorsteps, or laughing at, well, something funny in the street I guess. We see perfect people with a perfect image on Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, basically everywhere. People who shove gym selfies in our faces, with hashtag avocado and poached eggs, people who create flay lays of succulents and stethoscopes with impossibly perfect pastel-highlighted lecture notes, and people with perfectly poised children, or pets, or friends, all celebrating life in their own way.
But truthfully, many of us feel like we just don’t fit into a lifestyle niche. We’re not a [traveller]. We’re not a [fashionista]. We’re not a [hispter], a [parent], a [gym rat], and nor do we really want to be. We don’t feel the need to smack Monday in the face, or conquer the week, or be told that we’re only strong if we’ve suffered. We just want to, well, be.
You see, that plump-lipped influencer spends thousands of pounds a year on Juvederm and Botox and makeup and no image goes online without a whizz through photoshop first because she doesn’t dare anyone seeing a hint of her double chin. That influencer at the hipster coffee shop smiling at their laptop being a hashtag boss babe hasn’t even got it turned on, and even when it is turned on it’s full of chasing invoices and non-paying customers and tax return hell. That influencer at the hashtag super fancy hotel has a view from their window of the kitchen rooftop and the room probably smells a little bit like a chicken shop and they’ve been given a room right over the hotel’s bar that’s decided to play drum and bass until 3am and their flight back home has been delayed and no one’s home to feed the cat. That fashionista posing on someone’s front door steps being hashtag fierce has spent an age agonising over the hundreds of photos they either paid a photographer or duped a boyfriend into taking choosing the right one that shows the right mix of carefree whimsy mixed with future PhD. That person laughing at, well, nothing is just that. Laughing for the sake of a photo.
In other words, we’ve become more and more focused on what we should do as a [Travel Blogger], what we should look like as an [Instagram Influencer], what we should create as a [Boss Babe], and be like as a [Gym Rat]/[Mother of Ten]/[Super Awesome Friend]/[Medical Student], that we forget who we really are. We’re creating labels for our lives that restrict us to no more than our social media profiles and that’s pretty bad for mental health. Reading this thinking I’m making it all up? When was the last time you decided not to share a blog post, photo or something else you enjoyed because it didn’t fit with your ‘aesthetic’? When was the last time you decided against taking up a hobby because it’s not seen as ‘you’?
Instead, we should pick and mix bits of our lives we love, and seek to change those we don’t. We’ll create a lifestyle that suits our life, rather than the life we’re told to live via traditional and social media. Basically, take the best bits of what you see online, and realise they are just the best bits. They’re unachievable on a daily basis because we live in a very, very imperfect world. No amount of money, fame and glory will stop you losing a loved one in death, or stop you getting sick, or stop the pressures of life getting us down. Each and every one of us lives a lifestyle that’s totally unique and full of the same problems and issues we all experience, just in slightly different ways.
By ensuring we’re not labelling ourselves means we’re free to grow in any direction and to learn from new experiences. The lifestyle-less lifestyle means avoiding living in an echo-chamber of similarity, where our ideas and thinking processes can’t ever be challenged, which in some cases is incredibly dangerous. We need variety in life, to seek out experiences that challenge us and force us out of our comfort zone. That, truly, shows the world we’re more than just [label].