It was in 8th grade I think, when I heard my former best friend Tina say: „Ticking off to-do-lists makes me happy.“ I still feel the irritation that came along with those words. I just couldn’t understand what she was referring to. Did she really enjoy this? Immediately I – as teens do – started to question myself: Why wasn’t I that self-organized structure-loving girl that always got everything right, made reasonable decisions and planned her life 5 months beforehand?
As the years went by, I began to understand that it was not the fact that Tina loved ticking off to-do-lists that seemed so strange to me. It was the logic of efficiency, that I began to see everywhere. Peers trying to „get it all right“, to „avoid failing“. To master their own life as it was some kind of stress test. And to always be ready for the next job interview, a smooth and pleasing CV at hand.
I was and I am a part of that. And it strikes me that this kind of neoliberal thinking of „your life (and your success/failure) is your responsibility“ leads us sometimes to very harsh assumptions about ourselves and our peers.
I can now see all of that in a broader socio-economic context of destabilized markets and societies. We are all, in a way, facing much more uncertain futures than our parents did (while it is extremely difficult to get a full understanding of how this is just a perceived thing or really the case).
Against this backdrop, the topic of mental and emotional resilience seems really a thing we should put our minds to. What does „real“ self-care mean when we are all trained to function? When spiritual practices like yoga and meditation are already a part of improving ourselves, being a good self-entrepreneur who, after a good yoga-session, can function even better, work even longer hours?
I think sharing our vulerabilities and insecurities around failing, missing out and not wanting anymore is crucial at this point. Although there are already some great projects bringing these issues into awareness it seems that for a majority of people the stigma around for example mental illness, burnout etc. is still too big to cope with on their own.
How can we turn sadness, unproductivity and inefficiency into an accepted part of life and how can we help people to cope with expectations they can’t and don’t want to meet?