You’re Doing Great

Call me sensitive, call me a pedant, call me crazy (don’t actually call me because I live in mainland Europe and your phone plan might not include international minutes), but what seemed a harmless lil' promo video really got to me today.

There is so, so, SO much mounting pressure on millennials to have everything down pat as soon as poss. You to have your career path decided by age 20, start siphoning money into a high-interest ISA at 21, pay off your student loan by 25 and be running your own business empire by 28 (whilst also planning your DIY, Pinterest-worthy wedding). We consistently need to do more, be more, work out more, and obvs, eat less. We need a bullet journal to plan everything meticulously, but also need to go on spontaneous city breaks whenever poss. We need to be at the gym 24/7 and drinking green juices, but also need to spend entire weekends in the comfy embrace of a duvet, Netflix and a Domino’s delivery. We need to have a mortgage by 26, but also to have travelled the entirety of South East Asia, and have the friendship bracelets to show for it.

I feel the pressure too.

And so sometimes I am on the look-out for tips that will help me navigate this lil' thing called life and yesterday I clicked on a ‘life hacks’ article. EW GROSS I KNOW but this one purported to be about 'de-stressing' and to be honest, I’m always up for a tip that involves maxin’ and/or relaxin’ and quite frankly just any ‘life hack’ that doesn’t involve a hot glue gun, washi tape or five-day old brioche (or in some cases, a combo of all three), I’m always down for.

These tips came in the form of a promo video for a skincare company called something inane like ‘The Busy Girl’s Guide to a Stress Free Day’, showing some 20-something gal going about her day. Whilst I consider myself neither particularly stressed nor overly busy, watching this video actually had the opposite of its intended effect: it made me angry and put another thing on my to-do list (write this blog).

The five ’tips’ listed in the video applied such an intense amount of pressure and were based on such high expectations I feel it’s my public duty to debunk ’em here and now and tell all my millenial peers out there that if you’re not doing these things, it’s fine, YOU’RE STILL DOING GREAT.

  1. ‘Skip the sugary breakfast’.
    Right, if you ever need someone to punch you directly in the face, just tell me what I should or shouldn’t be eating and I will be happy to oblige you. If you’ve read this blog at all you’ll know not only am I a big fan of jam on toast, but also that I think there is enough food shamery going around as is. Women are already hearing the message loud n clear that if we’re eating ANYTHING but spinach and spirulina (and Instagramming it for proof), we will immediately go up 26 dress sizes and will be entered into the Guinness World Records Book for Most Hideous Woman. So for the love of God, don’t start spouting that sugar is not only making us fat, but stressed too. As a breakfast eater with 24 years’ experience, I can vouch for the fact that there have very few occasions when a sugary breakfast has stressed me out: the coupla times when my brother would get to the box of Nesquik in the variety pack before me (still coming to terms with the betrayal, really) and when Cinnamon Grahams inexplicably changed its name to Curiously Cinnamon.
    The woman in the video then appears at a breakfast table to a pristine plate of grapefruit segments and a slice of toast with half a hardboiled egg poised perfectly upon mashed avocado. As a person who enjoys a relaxed morning, I allow myself quite a lot of time for brekkie, but even I would struggle to put together such a meal first thing. And I’m only responsible for lil' old me! Spare a thought for those who have 3 kids who all need a PE bag putting together, various allergen-free lunches piled into Tupperware boxes, and who need to practice ‘Ode to Joy’ on the recorder whilst unsuccessfully attempting to tie their shoelaces. I’m sure that for those women, a mouthful of coffee in the morning is a miracle. If you genuinely find the process of PEELING AN EGG before 8am enjoyable and relaxing (umm?), then go for it, but equally, if you manage to wolf down a bowl of Crunchy Nut or tuck into a Tracker bar on the tube, YOU’RE DOING GREAT.

  2. ‘Pack your gym bag the night before’.
    These days I tend to immediately avoid any ‘life hack’ that involves the g word. I really don’t like the assumption that exercise occurs solely within the sweaty walls of a fitness suite: its totally exclusive to those who perhaps can’t afford the pricey subscription fee, don’t have the time, or just, dare I say it, don’t consider the gym to be a place of worship. You get to choose how you exercise. Like Summer Innanen (TOTAL babe) says, your health is your prerogative. If you’re able-bodied (it goes without saying that this type of advertising TOTALLY discounts people who aren’t), of course, it’s good to move your body, but it should be in a way that feels good to you and because you want to, not because you feel shamed or guilt-tripped into spending hours on a treadmill. The idea that exercise only counts if it involves a kettlebell drives me mental. Manage a couple of runs a week? BRILL. Go swimming sometimes? BRILL. Do a brisk walk to the station/to the newsagents on an emergency Quavers run? ALSO BRILL. YOU’RE DOING GREAT.

  3. ‘Exercise in the middle of the day’.
    Please see above. If you have the luxury of a lunch break longer than 30 mins and going for a midday jog will genuinely relax you, then cool, run like the wind, Bullseye. But if you need a little chill and you’ve got a spare few mins where you can get out the office, a stroll is always good too, not for the calorie-burning consequences, but for the fresh air, the time away from a screen, to feel energy moving around your bod. Exercise doesn’t always have to involve Lycra. Or any clothes at all, for that matter (OMG someone call Misteeq because I am so so so SCANDALOUS). Im a big believer in taking breaks, so have a few minutes away from your computer chatting to colleagues at lunch? BRILL. Manage to sometimes walk around the block before tucking into your sarnie? BRILL. YOU’RE DOING GREAT.

  4. ‘Apply a mattifying powder’.
    Ahhh, finally we get to the point of the promo. I have no idea how this fits in with having a more relaxing day: this would literally only distress you if your parents had threatened to begin the emancipation process against you on account of your oily skin. Wear a full face of makeup, false eyelashes n all to work? BRILL, YOU DO YOU. Genuinely could not care less about a shiny forehead? ALSO BRILL. YOU’RE DOING GREAT.

  5. ‘Go for a night out with the girls’.
    LITERALLY the only thing I agree with in this whole thing. I always find time spent with pals to be both manageable and relaxing but it’s also totally cool if you keep school nights free for you. Need a midweek pizza with the pals after a long day at work? BRILL. The only friends you want to be around after a day in the office happen to be called Ben and Jerry? ALSO BRILL. YOU’RE DOING GREAT.

I don’t know why I found this advert so especially infuriating: maybe I’ve been feeling the pressure a little more myself these days, but when I see ads like this and nearly fall into a pit of despair, I remind myself that advertisers want you to think that you’re failing so that you buy their stuff in an effort to solve it.

But don’t buy it and don’t buy into it, YOU’RE DOING GREAT.