• Mallory Porter

A Better You


I’ve become obsessed with self-improvement.

That’s not completely a bad thing, but it can get ugly even when all you’re looking for in life is a little more positivity. If you don’t enjoy the journey, the road becomes cluttered with anxiety, stress and anger that almost dissolve the satisfaction of the end result, if you can even fight through the mess to get there.

It’s upsetting. I’m upset. Mainly at myself for taking joy and turning it to muck. My life is P-E-R-F-E-C-T perfect, and my need to constantly improve things and be a “better me” has officially clouded all the beauty I have around me. And, I’m sure I’m not the only one.

So, what makes us tick like this? Because I want to end the proverbial ticking clock of time versus perfection.

Social media

The love/hate relationship between the two of us, social media. I am a creative, visual person who loves sharing cheerful posts. I adore my life and yes, I’m going to fully enjoy expressing it whether you care or not.

But, scrolling through feeds allows for the dreaded joy-killer that is comparison to walk on in, sit at your dinner table and stay a while. Drowning in other people’s “perfect” blogs and Instagram feeds won’t help you find your own voice. Inspiration: good. Anxiety and copying: bad.

Don’t get so obsessed with copying what’s visually popular and miss the world around you. Pictures are meant to remind you of good times. Not to be the only thing you remember because you were too busy summing up the most witty, inspiring caption while everyone else soaked in the day.

I’m not saying stop using social media, because god knows I’m not going to stop (there’s the love). I’m saying don’t confuse gorgeous blogs or social media pages for happiness; that’s what was behind the picture.

Money

I want to buy all the things and spend all the money. These days, most of my money goes towards eating out (or food and drinks in general), items for my house because I can’t stop nesting, clothing so I can look like Taylor Swift and Emma Watson put out a collaborative fashion line only for me, presents for others and travel.

Obviously, saving is important (which I need to get better at), but that’s not the issue. The issue is always wanting MORE. (Mallory, your kitchen in your not forever home doesn’t need new counter tops).

I constantly have a list in my head of places I want to eat, items I want to buy, home projects I want to complete, and places I want to travel. That list often creates more anxiety for me than the satisfaction of the items I do check off of it.

Money is a necessary evil to build the life around you that you want via experiences, self-expression and the home. But, destroying the beautiful scene in front of you of what you already DO have is one of the worst things I think a person can do in life. You (I) don’t need everything right away. Save up, decide what is really important, and be patient.

Work

Let me preface this by saying that I love my job, because I do! But, in comparison to the job I had in college at a museum with art, gardens, history, and old architecture to explore, it is less personally fulfilling.

Sitting at desk all day and staring at a computer indoors drains me some days. I miss breathing in the outdoors whenever I want to, instead of grinding out that 9 to 5, committed to a desk and chair 5 days a week.

You could say, “Hey, that’s life! At least you work for a great company and make good money to live!” Except - back to my paragraph above - it isn’t all about money, even if the world runs on it.

Then comes the questions: What do I want to DO? What is my thing? How can work also fulfill my emotion and life needs, not just money and ladder climbing? Needless to say, this is a self-improvement battle I’m still fighting. And, I need to remind myself to be thankful for my awesome job and having money to do all the things I want. It’s a bit of a never ending circle, this one.

Exercise

But, all I really want to do is eat pretty pound cake with fruit, take a picture of it, and watch some movies while gaining abs simultaneously. Yeah, not gonna happen.

I trained myself to not hate exercise (I can even run 2 miles now!), but the motivation still lacks some weeks. Even though I know I feel better physically and emotionally when I work out, I find myself dwelling on not having reached my personal body goals and giving up.

Plus, as I mentioned in my previous fitness blog post, to have that “perfect” body, your diet has to change, too. Committing to both almost daily exercise AND healthy eating with no cheats is incredibly difficult. I’m halfway committed to both items.

Bottom line, exercise and healthy eating is something everyone should strive towards. But, when those items cause stress or body shaming, then you’re doing more harm than good to yourself. Set goals, but enjoy the constant journey that is fitness. Love your body by savoring your healthy cooked meals, breathing in the crisp air as you run, and smiling down at your body’s own beauty as you shower all that achievement sweat off.

Time

Oh, time. The tip of the pyramid weighing everything else down. Maybe all of the above items wouldn’t be so stressful if we had more time. But, we don’t have more time and we can’t change the past, so deal with it.

You can only be a better person in the present and make choices in those moments to improve your future. Your mood facing your to-do list after a long day at work will determine how enjoyable your life is outside of work. Before you open the door, picture how the evening could turn out if you walk in smiling or frustrated, and make the right choice. Happiness is a choice, and one only you can make.

If you have negativity in your past creating anxiety, I suggest seeing a counselor. It doesn’t mean you’re broken, it means you’re strong and selfless enough to improve. Negativity needs to be released in a positive way, or else it will turn to anger and affect your present. One of my favorite quotes by Marcel Pagnol is, “The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be.”

If you’re on the self-improvement crazy train and want to jump off like me, I suggest looking at yourself in the mirror, staring straight into your own eyes and saying, “I DON’T HAVE TO DO THESE THINGS.” When I realized that I was only person creating this stressful list of perfection in my head, I snapped out of it. Write more, workout more, cook more, craft more, buy more, be outside more; no one was expecting all this shit but me. So, stop, me!

Sometimes when that list gets me so frustrated I think, “What’s wrong with me?” Nothing. But being a “better me” isn’t about the following items I’ve been stressing about. It’s about being a happy, positive person that people want to be around.

It doesn’t matter if I accomplish all of these items if I’m a grumpy, angry bitch who is unpleasant to be around behind the social media scenes. Self-improvement should be about taking negative points in your life and working to make them positive. Kindness, patience and selflessness should radiate through you with the right influences. If that is not the case, you’re doing this self-improvement thing all wrong.


#Lifestyle #CreativeNonFiction #NonFiction #Editorial

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