The forgotten recipe

It’s again that time of the year when the days become shorter, the nights become longer, and the weather becomes colder. It is, once again, the time to sit and look backward, to the good, the great and the terrible things that happened. To be grateful for the lessons, for the good times, and to note down our questions that are still looking for an answer.

So I’m gonna do what I feel like would be my share of gratitude and understanding, and will say a story. This is not meant to be a diary page. It is just a story about which I know it’s relatable for a lot of people, as 2020 came with such an emotional struggle to manage.

I remember a talk I’ve had with a guy in a moment when I was feeling really tired. I knew it’s about the burnout, yet only when he told me You’re being way too hard on yourself, you need a day to do literally nothing. Just to be lazy and stop thinking about all the things you are thinking about daily. And you’ll see how many things you’re actually doing.

That was a revelatory moment for me, the moment when I’ve understood, in the end, that my exhaustion was rooted in my incapacity to relax. It was a hard pill to swallow, the idea that I forgot how to relax. Yet, it’s true. I got all caught up in the craze of showing that I am willing to do things as good as possible even if the possibilities are rather low and…I forgot. I forgot to put myself first, above the Social Media numbers, views, shares, aesthetic or content ideas. And this got right back at me.

I’ve started, in a short time, to feel tired. Really, really tired, and the never-ending to-do-list of the day. I was enjoying less and less what I was doing, and I was always finding flaws in what was already done. That talk was what I needed to hear at the moment, that I’m doing enough things at once, and I gotta loosen up a little. To slow down the rhythm.

And… I tried. I started to post less, to stop worrying that I don’t know what to post that day, or that there is X thing that could’ve been done better. I tried to do things at my own pace, one day at a time. But there is a secret to all these. The mix between a brain so overwhelmed that it refused to cooperate anymore, and my willingness to actually talk about this, to go to people I look up to and tell them I’m tired, I forgot how to take a break from all this, and I need to relearn it, otherwise, I’ll be over and done.

Having external support is a huge deal because no one can do it alone. No one can escape the ropes of their own mind. You can’t shut up that voice telling you day after day that you didn’t do enough by yourself. You can’t escape the guilt trips by yourself. You can’t get rid of the productivity rush by yourself. No one can, no matter how strong their mental is.

The tough part is the journey before that breaking point. The exhaustion, the work, the feeling of not being enough. The internalized voices of all your critics. That ugly carousel you get a free ride into.

Because there is more to toxic cultures than diet culture. The hustle and productivity culture is just as toxic for individuals, as it reinforces the mindset that one has to be 24/7 busy and productive, to stay relevant. You don’t. An individual is not a business. An individual is not a brand either. An individual is a human being, with human needs.

And human beings need breaks. They need periods to stop thinking about what’s done already and what should be done afterward. Denying yourself the time to rest will only harm you. That’s the thing felt by all those promoting hustle culture. Felt, but never gone public about them, only talked in small circles.

I can’t say that now I’m doing things in a totally different way. Or that I am done with the burnout, even if, to some extent, I’ve overcome a lot of struggles. I’ve understood that looking at myself like I’m some kind of content-creating machine is not the way. That my value isn’t the quantity of the things I am doing daily, but their quality. That I am owing to myself to be alright in the long run. But most importantly, I’ve learned that the moment when something I enjoy doing becomes a source of worry, more than a source of joy, it’s time to let loose.

There is still a lot to be thought about and done, but the most important part is becoming aware that whatever you do, you have to find balance, as the smallest things impact your mental health.

To be or not to be…enough

I’ve seen something on Social Media these days, saying that this is not the year to make everything happen, but it is the year to be thankful for everything you’ve done so far. Cute,  but that was the moment when my inner critic started to tell me again how I didn’t do anything big so far, that’s not about me. But that was also one of those moments when I came to realize that progress will never be reached by constant self-bullying.

If I were a dramatic character, I would be a millennial Hamlet, consumed by anxiety and perfectionism, asking myself Am I, or am I not good enough? But I am not, and I come back and ask myself again: Good enough compared to what, exactly? To who?

And, as a restless perfectionist, I have to admit: that’s a great game-changer when it comes to the old matter of being enough. We often tend to tell ourselves that we’re not good enough period. But when it comes to telling what the other term of comparison is, we often put the story on hold. Because we don’t really ask ourselves with who am I comparing myself this time? And being enough is always about comparing yourself with another person or, even worse, with a whole set of social expectations.

This is where the trap actually is. Comparing yourself with somebody else makes you lose focus and perspective. You are not looking at your journey from the inside, as you should, but you look, instead, from above. You look down to your life, and you look down to the side of the other person’s life that you know about, and compare. And, as expected, you are never winning the imaginary race. Because no one can compete with a well-crafted image. And this is what we mostly know about other people’s lives. Well-crafted lives, created for the public eye. Basically, illusions where everything seems doable, and any failure seems easy to overcome. Unlike actual life.

But no one gets to see things like this from the beginning, it would be too easy. We have to compare ourselves to others, see our self-esteem and self-image be affected, and eventually get tired by everything, to see things clearly. Things that happen with age.

This is, however, the bright side, when you compare yourself to other people. The darker side is comparing yourself over and over again with society’s expectations from you. When you keep in mind that you are supposed to have your life together by 30 years, with a family of your own, a good job, a home, and possibly children, as you get closer to that age you tend to keep looking at your life, and then to look at your socially-imposed check-list.

The fact is you’ll never be on the same page with the never-ending list of social expectations, and this happens because every person has their own pace. There is no standard age for things like buying a house, completing your education, starting a family or a business. It’s true, coming usually from one’s dear people, the confrontation with the standards that society is imposing becomes much harder, as it borrows the voice of the ones you love. That’s why it is the darker, more damaging path to the Union of Never Good Enough.

But there’s nothing as damaging as looking at your life from outside in the long run. It makes you unable to be happy for yourself, and this is by far one of the most toxic things one can do. Because you can’t compare yourself over and over again and reach a balance. You can’t keep asking yourself why you’re not good enough and expect your mental health to be on point.

Mental health is, in fact, severely impacted by all the self-criticism and pressure one has to bear while constantly doubting on themselves. There is relief in accepting that your life and your choices have to only be meaningful to you, as you’re the only one able to access the whole image all the time. And there is joy to be found in knowing that whatever you feel like, is a valid and important feeling to be felt.

The reality is that you are and will always be good enough. No matter where you are in your life, no one could’ve done things better than you did. No matter what your inner mean voice says, it is only background noise. And no matter what you think, there’s a big, big difference between self-criticism and perfectionism, and it comes from the fact that critic comes from the inside, while perfectionism is always an outer voice. You are not too late and not too early either, because this is your life, not some social event to attend. And as long as you’re the MVP of your story, there’s no such thing as someone more worthy than you.

So next time when you want to turn into a modern Hamlet, asking yourself if you are good enough or not, remember what it made you feel like the last time, and ask yourself: Would I deliberately make my close friends feel like that? If the answer is no, then go for a walk, some popcorn and a cheesy movie, a bubble bath, or whatever makes you happy. You’re worthy of feeling good feelings about yourself and the life you’re living, so allow yourself as many occasions to do so as you can. And you’ll start to see why you’ve always been good enough.


Nu cred că știu, sau am știut vreodată, să meditez. Aud și citesc constant despre cât de benefică e meditația, despre cum e drumul regal spre vindecarea emoțională, dar eu nu-l știu.

Nu știu dacă atunci când pun cafeaua pe foc, atentă doar la asta și bucurându-mă de miros, e o meditație.

Nu știu dacă atunci când culeg cu grijă florile pentru pus în vază, atentă la fiecare în parte, meditez la ceva. Nici dacă atunci când mă salt pe vârfuri să iau un măr din pom, atentă doar la asta, e un act de meditație.

La fel cum nu știu dacă meditez la ceva atunci când mă plimb printre rafturile unei librării sau ale unui magazin cu bijuterii.

Nu știu dacă momentele în care cânt și dansez prin casă cu căștile în urechi sunt o formă de meditație, sau momentul când îmi trag o carte de tarot să văd ce anunță ziua de stă să înceapă.

Nu știu dacă serile în care mă bucur de o cană de ceva cald și de o carte sunt, de fapt, meditații ascunse.

 La fel cum nu știu dacă meditez la ceva atunci când mă uit spre stelele care se văd atât de clar de pe veranda mea, sau când mă bucur de felul în care luna luminează încăperea și pielea mea.

Nu știu dacă e vorba despre meditație nici când mă reapropii de corpul meu într-o cadă cu spumă, sau când mă bucur de atingerile altcuiva.

Nu știu dacă meditez atunci când fac o fotografie, când urc pe deal cu câinele după mine să văd apusul, sau când pur și simplu stau în leagăn și mă bucur de soare și de cerul senin.

La fel cum nu știu dacă e vorba despre meditație în diminețile în care se întâmplă să mă trezesc dimineața devreme, cât să mă bucur de lumina soarelui ce răsare, să mă sperii de frig, și să mă cuibăresc la loc în pat după ce am tras draperia, să las soarele să mă atingă.

Nu știu dacă atunci când îmi dau cu ojă unghiile, concentrându-mă pe fiecare în parte, meditez la ceva.

Dacă atunci când ascult un concert de pian, sau poate sunetul ploii înainte să adorm, meditez.

Nu știu nici dacă atunci când mă opresc în loc lângă vreo clădire frumoasă ca să-i sorb detaliile comit un act de meditație.

La fel cum nu știu dacă, atunci când vin din pădure cu vreo plantă, floare, frunză, măceașă, fulg, cochilie de melc sau piatră de pus la dulapul cu suveniruri din plimbări, meditez la ceva.

Nu știu nici dacă atunci când mă alint cu (și ca) o pisică pot vorbi despre meditație. Sau dacă atunci când gătesc ceva bun, dansând prin bucătărie printre ingrediente, meditez.

La fel cum nu știu dacă e sau nu meditație atunci când îmi aprind, noaptea, o lumânare parfumată, deschid jurnalul, și-mi trec încă ceva pe lista cu lucruri bune care mi s-au întâmplat, sau când pur și simplu termin de scris un poem și-i pun data în caietul lor.

Nu știu. Nu știu multe. E ca o ecuație printre necunoscutele căreia mă tot învârt. Nu știu, și poate e mai bine că nu știu.

Știu doar că sunt fragmente care mă bucură, care fac zilele să nu semene între ele, să aibă lumini, texturi, forme, gusturi, culori și mirosuri diferite.

Și mai știu că, dacă toate astea sunt forme de meditație, atunci nu vreau să aflu. Nu vreau să le înghesui pe toate într-o singură cutie, să le fur din farmec, să le ciuntesc. Singurul lor punct comun e că sunt aducătoare de bucurie, fiecare la rândul ei. Mai mult nu-mi trebuie să știu.