New Year’s Eve is coming up and a lot of people are thinking about what their New Year’s resolution should be for 2016. I have a few ideas myself, but today I wanted to write about my resolution from 2015. My New Year’s resolution last year was what I called “Finding Freedom”. I decided it was time to choose freedom in particularly three different categories in life: possessions, beauty and career. On the other hand, it is almost impossible to break free from the culture’s expectations on us unless we replace each cultural ideal with something new.
The three cultural ideals I wanted to break free from were: materialism, perfect beauty and power&money. When it comes down to possessions we are constantly fed that we should buy more and newer stuff. Beauty is extremely important in our culture and the ideal we are all encouraged to strive towards is perfection. Our careers are one of the main things in our culture that define us and give us our value as a human being. The more power we have and the more money we make the higher value we get.
I see a lot of people talk about these negative culture ideals on social media, the biggest problem is how do you break free from the negative ideals? I see women talk about how they won’t tolerate the negative beauty ideal for example, but the following week they are considering if they should get plastic surgery. I don’t blame them, it’s almost impossible to not follow the ideals in our culture, unless we replace them with new ideals. We can’t just hate that the culture is telling us to strive for perfection, we have to start striving for something else. If we decide to stop striving for perfect beauty, power and materialism we will still move towards these ideals subconsciously. We are fed these ideals daily through commercials, advertisements, magazines, TV and social media.
Our survival instinct will naturally adapt to any surrounding, if we are surrounded by magazines that tell us we need botox we will soon be convinced that we need botox. If we are following tons of people on Instagram who believe that perfect beauty is what we should strive for we will also start striving for this ideal, whether we like the ideal or not. “You are what you eat” they say, the same is true when it comes to what we look at. Your environment will always form you, so if you don’t want to become like it, change your environment.
I didn’t want to waste any more time in life striving for cultural ideals I don’t agree with, I needed new ideals to strive towards. I decided that instead of materialism I was going to strive for the opposite: Minimalism. I changed out the perfect beauty ideal for natural beauty. I didn’t want to strive for power and money in the career category since research is showing us that neither one of these things are what bring joy and satisfaction to human beings. I decided I wanted to strive for what I call loving work in the career category. I want to love the work I do, and I want my work to give me opportunities to love others. I personally believe that’s the whole point with work, to love others as we serve others through our jobs.
As I googled the new ideals I had chosen I found out I wasn't the only person who was tired of our culture’s negative ideals. There are already a huge movement out there on social media with minimalists, women who strive for natural beauty rather than perfection, and people who want to do work they love. I personally believe that the change this world so badly needs right now is going to come through the younger generations, I’m so proud of what the millennials are doing around the world.
What I needed to do to be able to stay free from the negative ideals that I had been striving towards for so many years of my life was to make some changes to my environment. I threw out all the catalogs that came in the mail (I already have enough stuff) and I stopped reading women’s magazines filled with headlines like “When is the right time to start taking botox?”. I started reading blogs by inspiring people who love the work they do and I stopped following people on social media who strive for perfect beauty and materialism. These changes made it a lot easier to resist the urge to shop more, want to change the way I look, or choose the job that will make the most money.
During the spring of 2015, when all the magazines in the grocery store had headlines like “get the perfect body for summer”, I would think to myself “I’m perfect just the way I am, I don’t need to change a thing”. That’s a huge change for someone who has been on the border to developing eating disorders for many years. I wish I could have felt that way already ten years ago. I hate that so many young women dislike the way they look because of the negative beauty ideals our culture still feeds them.
My possessions have become a lot fewer during the past twelve months, and our home has become a lot more organized as a result of that. I love sticking to fewer pieces of clothing in my wardrobe. It’s so easy to get dressed when I love every piece I own, because nowadays I only buy something if I truly love it. When it comes to career choices I’m excited about all the new opportunities that open up when you stop looking at work as only something that will give you a paycheck at the end of the month. There’s so much more to work than making a lot of money and building up a good retirement fund. Work is our chance to leave a legacy on this Earth, to change the world as we love and serve other people. I’m excited to see what year 2016 will bring!