Buying a dream wardrobe. Becoming “that girl” who has their whole life together. Social media has been inundated with person after person taking advantage of isolation to reinvent who they are to match an idealized version they have dreamt up. Clothes, furniture, food, workouts, everything lining up neatly to present a perfect life.
Reinvention is now characterized by fitting into a specific aesthetic. Each and every aspect of life seamlessly working into this categorized presentation. With this notion of identity correlated to a particular look, it is no wonder that reinventing oneself is highly associated with an inevitable shopping spree.
The trend of reinventing yourself can bring with it adverse outcomes. Forcing yourself into a particular narrative can result in a feeling of overwhelming inadequacy if you do not live up to the expectations of attaining a specific lifestyle. Chasing a material reinvention will never satisfy the thirst for genuine change.
Even so, I think we have all felt the urge, especially within the past year. Alone with myself, I could see all my shortcomings. The downfalls in my own being lead to labelling myself as less than purely based on what I saw as gaps in reaching a picture-perfect life. It was an intermediate between existing and living that I grazed pre-pandemic. I never liked it, but there never seemed to be a moment to breathe, let alone reinvent my entire existence.
Weeks of isolation provided the seemingly perfect opportunity to achieve all that could not be done during pre-pandemic life. It was an opportunity to become the person we idolized from behind screens because what else are you to do when alone with your thoughts? The push to change in a time characterized by introspection is undeniable.
Perhaps it is the realization that we are our only constant throughout all that we encounter. Maybe it is the distance from those who we find ourselves in. This pandemic has forced us to spend time alone unlike any other period before. Falling into the cracks of a social media spiral can leave you yearning to experience the near fictional perfection of the media you consume. It is all-encompassing, the world of redefined internet perfection.
We all see the possibility, but most will never attain it.
Being in university during this time has proven to be incompatible with any sentiment of living out any dream life. Money has been hard to come by. Time has been consumed by Zoom calls and school work. Life has become a seemingly endless cycle of hoping for some more freedom, only to be let down by another wave of cases.
Job prospects have been bleak. Completing over 150 applications landed me four interviews and two offers. It turns out that getting a job doesn’t even secure regular pay, as the consistent lockdown extensions have resulted in the most extended wait of my life. I cannot work in a restaurant that isn’t even open. I can’t earn money to afford rent unassisted, never mind an entirely new persona. I know I am not alone in this. University-aged individuals remain the hardest hit in employment throughout the pandemic. In Ontario alone, the youth unemployment rate has tripled from 10% pre-pandemic to nearly 30% now. The reality of living in a university or college town is a costly one, and yet the pull to renew identities remains ever so present.
To reinvent an identity through material items within the university context remains a dream-like fantasy just out of reach. Money is scarce, and trends seem to evolve faster than a shipment can even reach the door. Nothing is constant, even as the world seems to freeze in time. Keeping up with the latest version of life romanticized online is just not realistic in the university context.
The unattainable nature of material reinvention doesn’t leave every iteration of reinvention out of reach. A solution to feeling stuck in time doesn’t necessarily involve a complete upheaval of life. There are simple steps that can be taken to live more mindfully and change the habits that leave us suspended in time. Introducing new routines and patterns create a new space for you to grow from. Reading, journaling, yoga, walks, there is a long list of ways to satisfy the need for change through an enduring method. It is not always that the things surrounding you are the issue. Sometimes some changes need to be made from within to radically shift how you see the world. This is true reinvention.
This is a time that looks different for every person. The notion of change does not hold constant. Each individual adopts an identity of their own, leaving any change subject to personal interpretation. Reinvention cannot be bought. We are not simply the products of our material possessions. Who you truly are runs deeper than a facade displayed on social media.
Forcing change into a sedentary life comes from changing perspectives, not clothing. Creating excitement comes from finding new passions, not a new car. There is too much power being placed in presentation over substance.
So yes, change your life if you feel stuck in a pandemic rut but do not place the value in its appearance. Trends are fleeting, and identity is subjective. There isn’t a right way to go about reinventing your life. For most, we are bound to circumstances unable to change many aspects of the lives we live. Shifting things in our control allows for growth in identity, which is perhaps the one thing that will never fall out of trend.
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