In the constant striving for more, we are hurdle jumping over the very thing we desire – happiness, fulfilment and success. Just one step into the future denies us the enjoyment of the only life we will ever have and know; the present. In recent times, the race has ramped up a level and we are quite literally bouncing further away from the “now” than we ever have before.
The self-improvement movement is so deeply ingrained in our psyche we don’t realise we are on this futile treadmill – we are fighting an endless battle, in combat with ourselves and our consciousness. We are told, and thus we tell ourselves, “get off the couch and get a better body”, “apply the cream for a better face”, “eat the kale for a more toned tummy” “purchase the newest, latest, and greatest – keep up or even overtake the Jones’”. Every notion, product and service sells the idea of “improvement”. We have removed any room to exist as we naturally should – in the now, with no resistance and desire for anything greater. We are dissatisfied. We want to skip ahead. But what do we want to be better than? Better than we are right now? The lie of this concept is utterly ridiculous yet we continue to devoutly worship this process.
When it comes to fashion, “self-improvement” may well be called “fast fashion”. We pounce on new trends with such fervour we don’t even enjoy last season’s delicious winter coat because now it is all about the bomber. We are consuming the same way we are living – rapidly discarding anything we have to get the bigger, better, newer version.
Improvement itself is a wonderful measure of real achievement and growth, but the term “better” has little to do with this. You are not a better person than you were yesterday because you improved at something. You are no more and no less valuable as a human being for some superficial change or even for gained intelligence and experience. You may be further enlightened, increasingly content, obtain a higher level of acceptability accordingly to society, or become increasingly wealthy, but you are not better. You are the same you, with the same heart and the same soul. Better is married to self-improvement, it suggests an altering of ones worth through a change in physicality or mentality. Therein lies the danger. We are immediately discontent in the moment because we are pushed into the quest of “be better”. Why can’t we just be?
The race of self-improvement is fraught with disappointment but we are far off giving up. The constant distraction of technology, social media, celebrity and the 24 hour news cycle further ingrains the psychology behind the madness. We don’t know what it means to just “be” anymore, so it is no wonder we are living in some future daydream of our perfect selves and improved lives. When we are dancing into the night with our friends, or lovingly running after our children, or taking that first perfect sip of our morning coffee, putting on our favourite faded jeans or jumping into the fresh ocean, we realise we don’t need to change or improve a damn thing – we are complete and content – we feel, in those moments, what it is to know on a subconscious level that we don’t need to change. It’s about time we stopped manipulating our lives into the future and just let the present unfold, as we are, imperfect, natural and blissfully unimproved.
Photography and editing I Alex Hogg
Model I Jane Capel-Stanley
MUA I Jolina O’Hair
Assistant I Andrea Pitsilos, Simona Razmoska
Styling and outfits I Designer Op Shop