Rethinking Glowing Up

It’s a cozy, rainy, slightly chilly Sunday afternoon and I’ve got some aesthetic lo-fi beats going on in the background as I’m sitting at my study table, fingers flying across the keyboard.

So…today it’s actually my dad’s 60th birthday! I remember how at the beginning of 2020, I was so convinced that I wouldn’t be able to spend it physically with him, with the rest of the fam because I’d be in Aus doing Uni. But look where we are now – here I am, safe and sound, in my bedroom as the rest of my family are tucked in their usual little corners around the house. Life simply works in strange, unexpected ways and right now, I am just really glad that things have turned out this way for me to be able to return back to Singapore.

These past few weeks, I have been feeling much better mentally dare I say it. These few Sundays, I no longer spend it doing uni work without a decent break (which I used to and it just didn’t do very well for my mental health because we all need a rest day). Instead, I have been taking it slow and chill (probably fuelled by the rain which always seem to come on the weekends). And, somehow I always end up watching videos on Youtube that is filled with inspiring messages which always help me reorient my thoughts, put me back in a good headspace and provide me with the spirit to take on the new week.

This Sunday in particular, I was watching a glow up video by one of my new favourite youtubers (shoutout to Linda Sun). Her glow up is different from the ones I’m used to watching. It goes beyond and actually doesn’t focus on the physical changes but rather places emphasis on character development and self learning which I’m all for it. Some of the key messages that really hit me hard were:

  1. To really, truly glow up is to better yourself for yourself.
  2. Buying cute clothes, doing your nails and your hair can all add to your confidence, but they can only do so physically, and they can only do so much. Glowing up is more than looking different. It’s about what you’ve done to transform your mind.
  3. Build self confidence and tell yourself: “I can, I am, I will”.
  4. If I can convince myself that I can’t, that means I can un-convince myself too.
  5. Progress is progress, no matter how small or big they may be.
  6. Live for yourself, not for others; and definitely not for strangers.
  7. Be yourself unapologetically.
  8. There is always time for family. You can surely dedicate 1/24 hours to spend with them because family is important.

Number 6 hit hard for someone like me with social anxiety. I don’t know when, or why I started becoming so self-conscious about the way I looked, about how others will think about me. Listening to that one sentence kinda probed me to think more deeply about this issue that I have: why do I care so much about someone who knows so little, or actually absolutely nothing about me? What is it about their validation that I have to feel so insecure, and so tiny? If they have no weight in my life, why do I need to go out of my way to act in a certain manner to gain their approval? And then most importantly: it’s probably just all in my head. No one actually cares about you, even if they look at you it’s probably just for that short span of 5 seconds so stop overthinking. (Easier said than done, but I’m working towards it and as point 5 says, it’s ok to go slow and steady)

Number 8. Since coming back, I’ve been so absorbed in doing uni work, stressing myself silly trying to get the perfect grades but it comes at the cost of feeling so tired, drained, and irritable that I haven’t been spending good quality time with my family. Which is such a waste, because covid has given me this rare chance to actually do Uni back at home. And covid measures mean that the whole family is more or less always at home every day = more opportunities for interaction yet I’m not seizing them? Watching Linda’s videos, seeing her have family exercise sessions daily and movie nights together just inspires me to be like her. I want to make my parents lead healthier lifestyles, I want to do home workouts with them, lead them to do yoga/stretching which will be good for their aging bodies. If I can spend 1 hour watching random videos on my laptop, surely I can spend 1 hour having meaningful connections with my family as well? It sounds so silly how I’ve never thought about it this way before, that 1/24 hour is really not too much to ask for. Somehow when I was in my intense-study-stressed-out mode, all I could think about was study-eat-netflix-sleep and I didn’t even think about allocating my time for family. I thought relaxing meant holing myself up and being on my laptop feeding my brain with movies and fantasies (and sure it is a way to unwind) but in the process, I forgot that family can also bring me comfort and love and warmth.

This post like the previous has just been a rather random mishmash of thoughts and enlightenment but I had to put it out here so that on bad days, I can read it once more and give myself a good mental knock on the head. To anyone out there who’s going through a period of self doubt, I hope this helps a little.

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