Editor’s Letter: On Being the Best Version of YouBy Angelica Malin
Let me be straight with you: I’m not always honest. Sometimes I am dishonest with my own feelings. Sometimes I am dishonest to my own desires. Sometimes I am dishonest even to my own beliefs. We all have moments, days, weeks, when we bely honesty to ourselves, putting our needs after another’s, denying our true selves. It is easy to be truthful with others, it’s not always to be truthful with ourselves.
I’m writing this, on a relaxed Sunday, in possibly the most delicious, fragrant shop in all of London – the sickly-sweet haven that is Primrose Bakery. As I take in the rich, sweet scent of vanilla cupcakes and chocolate chip cookies baking, I realise that I haven’t been honest with myself, the last few months. Truth is: I have secretly dreamt of sitting here, alone, engulfed by the indulgent perfume of chocolate and caramel, for months. Weekend after weekend, I have bypassed my own desires to please someone else. Some people fantasise of romances, threesomes, bondage, and I, quite simply, have fantasised of an afternoon of alone time, reading and writing, inside a shop that smells like one big, loving cupcake. Simple pleasures. Always remember to be kind to yourself. In the wise words of Danuta Tomasz, assistant director of education at Cognita Schools, “don’t despair!”.
But I haven’t given myself a moment, just to be. I have allowed myself to fall into the trap of pleasing other people; socialised when I haven’t felt like socialising, exercised when I haven’t felt like exercising, drunk when I haven’t wanted to, and sped up, when all I needed to slow down. I’ve allowed my life to be taken up by other people’s desires, needs, wants, and the result? I simply haven’t been the best version of me: stressful, tearful, worn out, I’m a shell, propped up with lattes. The phrase that I bring, again and again, to the forefront of my mind in these times is: “honour your relationship with yourself”. This phrase is my compass, my port in a storm, my North Star.
I want to ask you a few guiding questions for the week ahead. Grab a pen and paper:
- 1. When was the last time you did something solely for yourself? What was it? How did it make you feel?
- 2. What’s one food you really enjoy, which you haven’t had recently? How could you incorporate it this week?
- 3. What’s a hobby you love, which you’ve let slide?
- 4. Is there someone who drains you of energy, who you keep seeing? Is there someone that nourishes you, emotionally, who you don’t make enough time for?
- 5. Where is your happy place? How can you go there more often?
It is so easy to do more; to work more, to exercise more, to drink more, to worry more. It’s much harder to do less – to be alone, to have rest time, to exist in silence, to pause, to reflect. Amidst a state of chaos, work and endless to-do lists, I decided to press pause this weekend and take my mum for a spa break in Yorkshire at Ye Olde Bell. Whilst there, in between trips to the steam room, I read The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle, and the book really opened my eyes to the ‘disease of thinking’. How we all, without fail, think too much – we allow our brains to constantly wander, to fizz with thoughts, to race, to keep us up at night, to control us. Are we in the driving seat of our thoughts? Often, I find, I cannot stop thinking, flitting with a million ideas, tasks, worries. My brain controls me, my physical self, my emotions, and I find myself unable to stop it. Ironically, so often we think totally mindlessly.
Are you the same? Can you press pause on your mind? One technique I’ve been trying, from the book, is bringing a new sense of awareness to the present by intense focus. The idea is that, to stop our brains constantly racing to thoughts of the future or dwelling on the past, we must force ourselves to think intensely about the present moment.
So, for example, when walking to work, I try to focus on the feeling of wind on my skin, the scents on the street, the blowing of leaves in the trees. This heightened sense of perception towards the world around me allows, momentarily, for more ‘mind breaks’ when thoughts aren’t facing, and stops, hopefully, the sap of vital energy from our bodies which comes from over-thinking without mental rests. Like any muscle, our minds get fatigued, and yet I often feel like I don’t know how to nourish my mind, in the way that I know to soak sore muscles in a long Epsom salt bath, or stretch out my achey spine in a restorative yoga class. Strategies for resting the mind are, undoubtedly, even more crucial for our overall wellbeing and happiness, and yet we so often forget them in an ever faster world. Side note: try this technique of intense focus on feeling for the best sex ever.
This week, I want you to start thinking about your mind, and its state. Is it racing? Is it anxious? Is it healthy? Rather than chasing our racing thoughts, giving them power over our bodies, allow yourself time to analyse how, exactly, your mind is feeling – step outside of it, almost, and observe it with kindness, compassion and patience, as you would a friend, and act accordingly. Maybe that means you need to cancel plans this week, to make time for yourself, maybe that means walking to work rather than getting the tube, maybe it means an honest chat with someone, or doing something for you. Whatever it is, I truly think until we learn the real meaning of self-care, we cannot make the world a better place. Because nothing works if you don’t. Our relationships, friendships, careers, they all come down to the essential product: you.
Be the best version of that person this week. Jels x