Oh hi there, and welcome to my latest post as I come out of a semi-regular writer’s block/impostor syndrome hiatus. If you don’t periodically question the point of everything you do and your ability to do it, are you even living?
So it seems timely to talk to you about an article I read recently, where Yale’s “Happiness Professor” Laurie Santos was talking about the connection between money and happiness. She said, “If you change your income from $100,000 to $600,000 your happiness goes up from, like, a 64 out of 100 to a 65. For the amount of work you have to put in to sextuple your income, you could instead just write in a gratitude journal or sleep an extra hour.”
And I was like, ‘shut up, what do you know?’, and also ‘you’re so right‘.
Money is great, and I love having it, but it is also stressful, and so is modern life.
I think this is why I know so many smart, successful women who are doing all the things they have been told to do, and still questioning themselves.
We moisturise, exercise, strategise. We work hard, ask for promotions, do our best girlbossing.
And yet it often seems as though it’s … not enough?
Like, when you’re making Ikea furniture, carefully following those sexless cartoon creature instructions, and things seem to fit together, but you get toward the end and have the wrong number of pieces left.
You retrace the steps, compare the screw-holes and scratch your head with a growing sense of confusion. ‘Like, I am sure I did all the right things, in the right order. Why isn’t it working?’.
Why are we doing all the things, but not feeling like they are quite right?
We have kids and worry we are messing them up with too much sugar or screen time. We have partners and worry if they emotionally and sexually satisfied by what we can offer. We have jobs and wonder if our colleagues and bosses think we are any good. We count our calories and apply our retinol, but wonder if we just look old.
So, we are happy. We love our friends and family. We have a lot of fun times. But also … we are anxious. We are wondering. We suspect that there’s something more we should be doing. Maybe we need a payrise, a side hustle, a bonus, to know we are earning enough. Maybe we need to lose 5kg, maybe we need to get botox, maybe we should drink less, maybe we should save more.
Why don’t adults get those ‘Merit Awards’ like we did at school? What if we want a smiley-face stamp that says ‘you’re doing great’.
So, I’m just here to tell you that you are doing great, and that the system is rigged against you.
Capitalism, at its core, tells us that there is always more to do and more to buy. And once these tasks are done and items purchased, we will feel complete.
But that’s the trick – we don’t feel complete. Because the deus ex machina – the ‘god in the machine’ – is the invisible hand of a capitalist system reliant on perpetual growth. And that growth can only be fuelled by perpetual need – or perpetual perceived need.
The very basis of our modern capitalist society is maintaining a sense of ‘not enough’. The moment we accept that what we have and what we do is enough … that is the moment we abandon the shopping cart.
And we have an entire social structure, media system and advertising economy set up to avoid that very outcome.
Don’t worry, I’m not quitting my job to live on an ashram anytime soon. I’m not throwing out my expensive skincare regimen. I am definitely accepting my bonus from work.
But I am also cultivating awareness. I am meditating daily to stay mindful and grateful. I am reading widely, to see things from different perspectives. All these inherited ideas about womanhood, money, income, value – I am holding them up to the light to see if they are true for me. I am working out what to cut and what to keep.
So, that’s what I want to tell you today, Fierce Girls. That you’re not alone if you sometimes feel ‘not enough’. That we are all navigating our way through the cultural landscape we find ourselves in. You can simultaneously love your life and question its trajectory.
And I am here to stamp the back of your hand with the phrase ‘You’re doing great’.