There are times we do things that make sense only to us. Cutting a sandwich diagonally into halves, leaving a light on before we leave the house, putting left shoe on then right. Small rituals which we might fool ourselves into thinking, create a sense of distance between us and everything out there. Little things we do to give ourselves control and agency over the events that unfurl as life goes on. It’s obvious we cannot control that which happens to us, but we can definitely control that which we do. Sometimes this is good, but can also be bad.
I think we’re all looking for ways to exert a little bit of control, to show ourselves that ‘hi, I am also important’. We do this through our relationships, with others and ourselves, most of the time. We also do this physically, by restricting ourselves from things like gluten, dairy, sugar and essentially joy. By becoming obsessive about something that we have a good degree of control over, the things that happen beyond that, become somewhat more palatable. If you can’t control the traffic, why not spend that one hour thinking about what you will do at the office, how you will respond to certain remarks and what you will eat for lunch.
We now also have the ability to control what other people think of us, at least until they meet us. Through things like social media, we are able to carefully curate the image of what we ideally want others to think of us as. I truly believe that social media has become less about sharing things we love and care about and more for propagating a certain self-image to the world. We’ve grown up so exposed to so many kinds of media that we’re able to mould ourselves into certain boxes. The artistic one, the nice one, the one who works long hours, the one who loves to drink wine. Today, you don’t need people to spend time with you to learn these things about you, we have memes for that.
By controlling the way we live our private lives and portray ourselves, we gain a little satisfaction. It’s become normal to share eccentricities about yourself, because this is what we believe makes us interesting. We’re just struggling to find that one thing that makes us unique, in a sea of faces all wearing the same lip gloss. Satisfaction that things are not so much just happening to us, as we are making them happen. I believe in human agency and think it’s one of the strongest forces out there, but I also think we delude ourselves by thinking that forcing yourself to cut out lactose will change your life.