“The Glow-Up”

It’s time for our very own renaissance, dammit!” my best friend exclaimed, slamming his fist down at our regular table in our regular haunt. I arched my eyebrow at this uncharacteristic display of emotions: my friends and I weren’t ones to healthily express our anger, or any emotion for that matter. We do the responsible, adult thing: bottle it up, stuff our feelings inside and then get super drunk to avoid dealing with them (this is a horribly blatant lie, we’re emotional messes).

“And what exactly is “our very own renaissance”?” I inquired. In my mind’s eye, all I could see was turn of the century clothing and vivid brushstrokes and I’m just not sure we could pull high-collars off. Or vivid colours.

“You know, we need to have a glow-up. Turn our lives around. Have our moment in the sun. It’s about fucking time, to be honest” he said, gesturing vaguely in my general direction. I arched my eyebrow again, but couldn’t fault him his subtle shade. To say that I’ve been stuck in a rut for the past year would be the understatement of the century. In truth, the only reason I was sitting here, watching my best friend slam fists on tables and lose his shit is because (for the past month specifically) I finally hit rock bottom and it was time for him to drag me out of my self-imposed exile in the deep recesses of how shitty my life has become. Over the span of thirty days, I quit my job, got dragged right in the middle of my parents’ most recent/ugliest attempt at a civil divorce, reached peak alcoholic/chain smoker levels, had to adjust to the reality that 95% of my friends were leaving me behind and fleeing the country and finally exited yet another failed attempt at a relationship that I stubbornly kept trying to cling to even though I knew fully well it was an absolute, dead-end mess (and by exited, I mean got dumped).

In short, October truly and utterly blew.

“Haven’t we tried that before?” I said nonchalantly, sipping my coffee and avoiding the dead on glare from the person seated in front of me. “It never works. We’re too set in our ways; we’re too old for a glow-up”. My best friend sighed and threw his hand up in exasperation. I HAVE tried to have a glow-up before, honestly I did. But the nagging voice in the back of my head, the one that kept evilly whispering in the dead of night that I had peaked and it was all downhill from here, kept foiling every and all attempts at turning my life around. One can only attempt to climb uphill so many times when one’s own brain is causing the landslide.

“Fine, I acknowledge the need for a glow-up. But I’m just not optimistic it will happen, so don’t get your hopes up” I finally acquiesced, prompted by his silent glaring. My best friend sighed and lit a cigarette, his only one for the day.

“I mean, if Britney Spears could do it, I’m pretty sure we fucking can!”


According to Urban Dictionary (because it’s 2016, Oxford has become obsolete), a “Glow-Up” is defined as a “transition from bottom to top to the point of disbelief. An incredible transformation”. That sounded truly exhausting; I mean, even reading the definition alone had me feeling winded and ready to throw in the towel. I thought I had my glow-up when I graduated college, landed a job and moved out of my parents’ house. But since last January, I’ve fluctuated between living with them to living alone so many times that “leaving the nest” stopped feeling like an accomplishment. Alternatively, it was more like a comically dangerous game of Russian Roulette, where instead of dying if you lose, you end up having to pack up all your shit (again) and move back in with an overbearing father and a self-absorbed mother (I’ll hold my tongue on discussing my parental issues at this point).

I thought I had my glow-up when, last July, I cleanly and smoothly ended a one-month long relationship (using the term very loosely) in the most adult way I’ve ever experienced a breakup since I first made the huge mistake of accepting dating as part of my routine. No mess, no fuss, no hard feelings and (more importantly) no drama. But that feeling of conviction quickly and furiously evaporated when, a couple of months later, I got myself tangled up in yet another relationship that was wrought from the beginning with crimson-red flags, and found myself getting involved with an emotionally crippled narcissist who could only acknowledge where we stood emotionally when I was 10000 KM away in New York City (which should have been warning enough), only to pull back and shit all over things when I eventually returned (I’m over it).

Honestly, I could keep going on and on about so many key moments in my life where I thought I had finally achieved the elusive “renaissance”, but I’ll spare you the whining. The point is, I had deluded myself into thinking I’ve finally managed to turn my life around and get my shit together so many times, when in fact, I never dealt with the core of my issues. All these attempts barely scratched the surface. In my frustrated attempt to further get to the depths of the infamous “glow-up”, I stumbled upon a meme, one that carried such an infuriating message that set my teeth on edge and made me see red.

Here is the aforementioned, disgustingly optimistic meme. Credit: Pinterest.

Unfuck yourself? The way I see it, all those things that happened that dimmed my fucking shine were a contributing factor to who I am as a person right now. Isn’t the whole point of the glow-up, to be a better version of who you are now, despite all the crap going on in your life? Wouldn’t going back to the same person you were before all those experiences kind of defeat the purpose of you moving forward, seeing as how you’ll probably end up making the same mistakes over and over again?

That’s when it hit me: it wasn’t that I had “reached my peak” and had already had my glow-up. It’s that I’ve been so dead set on going back to the person that I used to be, to the point that I ended up making the same mistakes over and over again, in an endless cycle of constant self-disappointment. I don’t wanna go back to the person who keeps making all these impulsive decisions, I don’t wanna go back to the person who constantly hunts down the wrong relationships just to actualise a self-fulfilling prophecy that I’m not good enough or that I’m not worth enough.

And in that moment, the concept of the glow-up became crystal clear to me. Not to say I’m not quite skeptical of it (you can’t teach an old dog new tricks that easily), but I’d at least give it a try. To take whatever’s left of my past-self and push it forward to be a much better version of who I currently am, or at least trying really hard not to end up retracing my steps. So, yes, I’ll TRY to cut down on smoking, and yes I’ll TRY to go to the gym and turn myself into the sex god I’ve always been but more, and yes I’ll TRY to settle for nothing less than a relationship with someone who will fucking realise how truly lucky they are to have me in their life, and will give me no less than what I deserve. Because at the end of the day, all those young adults running around trying to figure out their lives are just as lost and clueless as I am. We’re all just trying to figure out this huge mess that’s called “life”, and all we can do is try and fail and try again. So. I’ll try. I’ll probably fail. But, you know what, I’ll get up and try again.

You definitely get points for trying, right?