A Rabbit Hole of New Year Reflections
I love to think about perception. New Years is a holiday celebrating a totally contrived ending and beginning point for our perpetual circles around the sun. Spring would make a lot more sense or even cutting off the year after the summer!
We have agreed, socially, for the circle to become a straight line, to be broken and broken arbitrarily. I find the result of our yearly decision riveting. I love recaps and reactions, positive and negative. You can imagine my delight when I stumbled upon an abandoned blog post I wrote about a year ago reflecting on the flat line of 2016 and the origins of all my current projects, a lifestyle blog called Mind/Matter. The post tells the story of how I finally stepped securely away from trying incredibly hard to possess what I perceived as social success, which manifested in an eating and exercise disorder and a neurotic obsession with minimalist lifestyle blogs.
Mind/Matter still exists, but by the time I abandoned it and started FeministFatal.com I had already gotten rid of the old logo and the awful, artificial lifestyle posts with titles like "How I Fit Back Into These Jeans" and "Why You Should Go to the Farmer's Market." Literally everything I stand against at my core. If you are also a fiend for time lapse, there is still a photo essay of the process of growing out my shaved head from 2014 to 2016 that is pretty fun.
Anyway, here is the unpublished post...
"Staring down the last two weeks of 2016, I feel satisfied with the year on the grounds that I can’t describe (cue trying to describe it) how deeply I have changed over its winding course and occasionally perilous (within the relative safety of my many privileges) course… and that’s all we can really ask for.
This blog is an unexpected indication of that progress. Around this time last year, I started a health challenge for myself (no sugar, working out at least 5 days a week with several mile walks on the off days, obsessive cataloging of my eating habits) as a strategy to combat my depression and anxiety. I thought that “balancing” my body would help me find clarity and balance in my mind. I thought that achieving my physical potential perfection would curb self-loathing. I concocted the idea of creating a lifestyle blog like basically every other lifestyle blog with a minimalist and environmentally conscious bent. I couldn’t have been more misguided. My “health” challenge turned obsessive and disordered. I once spent an evening screaming and crying on the floor after then-boyfriend made white pasta for dinner. A skipped workout kicked up the anxiety tornadoes, I spent all my free time cooking, working out or laying on my bed crying thinking about how much more artistic, free, and intelligent I was before I moved to Seattle. I thought I was improving my body image by believing I could improve my body (my slave, my slave!), instead of accepting it.
I became totally manic about my routines and reading or even looking at the posts I wrote about this part of my life is shocking. Didn’t I have anything better to be doing? Isn’t there some better use of my talents than adding to the oversaturated world of “how I fit back into these jeans?” Ugh. And instead of countering materialism, I contributed to a culture of “minimalism” that was really obsessed with the material, arranging it, scrutinizing it, judging it. I might have had less of it from more ethical sources but my life was still completely centered around the material and maintaining an illusion of class. The posts are so embarrassing I thought about deleting them but I’m leaving them up as a testament to these thoughts and in an affront to a culture of cultivating our images.
A few months after this manic era, I broke up with my long-time boyfriend, who had been instrumental to the health phase, encouraging me to lose weight and work out more (well-intentioned but unhelpful), and eventually met a new partner. He didn’t have abs, didn’t care and was the most magnetic person I had ever met. That first night he said, “the day I need to work out to get laid is the day someone needs to come shoot me.” Barely post-health phase Jess was mildly scandalized, you can’t advocate never working out! But I soon found I couldn’t get enough of this life motto. I felt totally free from judgy comments about hitting the gym or questions about my progress on a tighter ass. I had way more interesting things to be doing, more incredible food to eat, more wine to drink, more engaging sex, so much more of everything. Everything nonmaterial. Experiences. I applied my energy to creative projects, I found myself outside more and just walking around for fun or getting my movement in unintentionally.
Interestingly enough, I actually lost a bunch of weight after that. I’m not really sure why (less stress, too poor to eat all the time, less binge eating because I felt more psychologically balanced?) but I don’t really care. I can honestly say I don’t care, and if I were to gain 20 pounds tomorrow I would be irritated about buying new clothes but otherwise perfectly sane.
I don’t know if most people are already to this point and everything I’m saying is incredibly obvious. All I know is the lifestyle and fashion culture fed me so many blogs, youtube channels, blah blah blah, that served to perpetuate my insecurities and depression while posing as an attractive solution. A true talent of materialistic culture.
Point being, Mind Over Matter was a total misnomer and I intend on using the blog for wildly more interesting things than losing weight from here on out. Photo shoots, think pieces, poetry recordings, book reviews, video series, interviews- and hopefully lots of projects that don’t fit into any category I can even think of at the moment.
So cheers to a 2016 that was a close save."
I'm starting out 2018 in a much more grounded position than the year before. That whole toxic episode of my life feels incredibly far away. But it gives me great hope to read my old New Years resolutions, tentative but ready for liberation, which I didn't remember making so explicit, and know that I followed through. That there is some evidence of being able to change your own perception by thinking about the circle of life as something with beginnings and ends. Even though its only real in our collective mind.
In 2017, I never cried over calories or not making enough art again.