Letting go of the guilt of not fitting in the stereotypical female look

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Image by and of the author.

The older I get, the less jewelry I put on. A few years ago, I ditched the colorful bands I used to wear on my hair. Last summer, I threw the only necklace I owned into a lake as a part of a personal ritual.

As a woman, I was never into the typical girly look. High heels were something I wore to make a joke. I also gave up on makeup around the age of 18, after I realized how incompatible it was with my proneness to crying out of both joy and nostalgia.

But as I’m approaching 30 — and gradually starting to feel my girlhood transforming into womanhood — I’m not just indifferent about those outer expressions of feminity. I purposefully avoid them. I make it a point to minimize the facade I display to the outside world through my looks. That seems to be the only way to give my inner beauty a chance. …

They may not be sexy or instagrammable — but they work.

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Photo by Omid Armin on Unsplash

Thanksgiving will be different this year. We know it, but we still want to celebrate it — maybe more than ever.

When a global pandemic is upending life as we know it, established holidays are one of the few things that can still give us a sense of stability. Although travelling to meet friends and family may not be feasible, the last Thursday of November is still a special day for many people.

It carries a ritual with it. Something familiar, a point of reference, and a moment to stop.

In the past few decades, Thanksgiving became a commercialized holiday that lost its spiritual, soul-felt aspect. But because we need it now more than ever, maybe it’s a good moment to revive the original intention behind it: giving thanks.

The practical and spiritual value of putting yourself first

For a bigger chunk of my life, I looked for validating my self-worth through being helpful to others.

You can attribute this to many factors. Being raised to be a “good woman” in a patriarchal society. Being born into a family where everyone seeks to please everyone else. Maybe genes that predispose me for finding my value in how others perceive me? Who knows.

The bottom line is, the reason behind my condition isn’t that important. Focusing on why I am the way I am has many times pointed me in an unhelpful direction. Instead of asking “How can I help myself?” I’d point fingers at others. …

Obsessive “work” on the self is taking me off track.

The self-improvement space is ill. Or maybe, I’m ill — but externalize my internal issues to be able to blame someone or something out there for my struggles.

(The latter is always easier because, for a moment, it gives you an excuse. It allows you to fool yourself that you’re not responsible for your attitude to life. That’s it — personal responsibility covers our attitudes, rather than what we manage to make happen in our lives.)

In any case, self-improvement and the pursuit of a better life have brought me to a place of devaluing life as it is right now. It also reinforced my default, ancient belief that I can never be good enough. If you read my writing before, you’ve seen this theme come up more than anything else. …

The much-needed shift in organizational culture is already here — use it to enhance your workplace.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Throughout the 20th century, life in the West became compartmentalized. People started thinking about work, personal and spiritual life as separate “modules” of how they spend their time.

We started losing sight of how all those modules penetrate one another.

Workplace spirituality is one manifestation of integrating all aspects of life back into the whole. As we grow as a society, more and more people look for the spiritual dimension of their jobs. Many organizations stop looking at work as something we just get done and forget about. …

I know a change to my writing is coming.

When you’re a writer, words are your go-to solace. It’s in their interplay that you find relief from the labyrinth of your own thoughts. It’s the act of putting them down or paper or keyboard that brings a hint of much-needed clarity in the world that all too often seems like it’s directed by chaos.

Words are my escape and, at the same time, my tool for inner wisdom. Writing them is the practice that’s shaped who I am today. Reading them has given me a sense of connection to the minds of others that I couldn’t find elsewhere.

But today, it feels like words are failing me. They slip by, unnoticed, as I’m in the phase of writing “content” and not “art.” Lots of them remain unspoken, like seeds forever hibernated in the soil that’s too hostile to feed them. The seeds are there, eager to sprout. But the soil doesn’t allow them to do their thing. …

You won’t achieve your dreams if you can’t tend to your needs.

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

If you want to live a life of purpose, it’s no secret that this requires work and commitment. You need to find your calling and go down a path less travelled. That’s not easy.

It also comes with challenges that you wouldn’t have to deal with if you settled for a life that doesn’t mean much to you.

Let’s say you want to build a business that supports a social cause that’s important to you. You may invest weeks and months upfront in the project, without seeing any immediate results. You’ll be tempted to work overtime because you want to make it happen so badly. …

City life and the pandemic make it harder — but not impossible.

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Photo by RF._.studio from Pexels

City lifestyle combined with a pandemic is a recipe for a mental health disaster.

At first, it seemed like living a quiet life would be easier under lockdown. We were confined to our houses and limited social circles. Some of us stopped commuting to work. Many activities disappeared from our calendars simply because they had to.

If it made our lives seem quieter, it was only for a moment. Soon, we started experiencing more noise than ever. That noise is now more persistent in our minds than on the busy streets.

Pandemic-related stressors, such as job loss, financial hardship, restricted personal freedoms, or isolation are just a few factors that — according to this article published in The New England Journal of Medicine — “undoubtedly will contribute to widespread emotional distress and increased risk for psychiatric illness associated with Covid-19.” To deal with that distress, many people came up with ideas to keep themselves “sane and productive.” …

A counterintuitive way to make the most of any discussion

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

When trying to win an argument, most people default to the obvious: talking. There are two typical strategies for that.

First, there are the folks who are aggressive with their words. They’ll charge right into their opponent. They’ll throw arguments like bombs. They’ll quote facts, negotiate assumptions and corner you until you’re left speechless, with no other choice but to agree with them.

Other people have a different strategy. They won’t use merit to convince you. Rather, they’ll rely on emotional manipulation. They’ll bring up only remotely relevant examples and position themselves as victims. …

Our mission, style guide and types of stories we publish

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Burnout and overwhelm.

That’s the experience of the modern world, more intense in 2020 than ever before.

We’re all living through an unprecedented global crisis. But in the middle of the chaos and uncertainty, life goes on. We continue to work, lead, look after our families and pursue goals.

We aren’t giving up on ourselves and our purpose. Not just yet.

At Big Self School, we believe that it’s possible to live a joyful and meaningful life even amidst the pandemic. The way to do it is — and always will be — to live from the inside out.

We want to help people who care to play big without burning out. This requires not just hard work, but tapping into their Big Selves — the embodiment of wisdom, courage and compassion. …


Marta Brzosko

Sick and tired of self-improvement. Advocating for self-awareness instead. https://selfawareness.blog/

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