The Quarantine Glow-Up

2020 was a rough year, for many obvious reasons. During quarantine, I experienced a spectrum of highs and lows concerning my mental and physical health. I spent months battling loneliness, literally recovering from Covid, dealing with financial insecurity, and encountering forces of unexpected emotions. Yet, despite everything, 2020 was also a year of one of the greatest learning curves of my life. Since March of 2020, I went through a rollercoaster ride of internal processing and self-discovery that pushed me to become a better version of myself: a person I am proud of today.

The Rough

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Social media played a major role in negatively affecting my wellbeing. I was overwhelmed with the influx of rapidly changing content and particularly affected by the illusion of success portrayed on (seemingly) everyone’s highlight reels. At times, it was really difficult not to compare myself to others and think… “Geez. What’s wrong with me? Why can’t I get my life together? What am I doing here just sitting on my bum?”

In the midst of all my internal turmoil, I came to the conclusion that I was constantly trying to be this person that was not me. I was trying to please the masses, whatever that meant. I realized I was restricting my life by people’s expectations and my own limiting beliefs. I cared too much about the opinions of others, when in reality, no one cared.

The Turning Point

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I knew that in order to change the course of my life, I had to stop comparing myself to everyone around me. I needed to go through my own quarantine inner glow-up. Cheesy to say aloud, but I quite literally made it my mission to change the course of my life.

The biggest takeaway from this “glow-up” process was the fact that this was not an overnight transformation. There were no shortcuts or drastic changes. I’m still undergoing changes and expect I will continue to do so for the next several years. Let me walk you through two breakthroughs that led to a major changes in my life (that I hope will serve to help you as well).

Comparison is a Killer

My biggest heartaches in life came from my deeply rooted insecurities. I was constantly comparing myself to someone I perceived as better than me in one regard or another. This was the bane of my existence and truly stunted me from thriving. I had to learn to let it go. I had to decide to let it go. I started rewiring how I viewed the world. Instead viewing others as my competition, I started to perceive them as my fellow learners, supporters, and equals. Choosing to change my perception of the world around me spurred me in the direction of building my own independent and secure identity. Our lives are not meant to be a reflection of someone else’s definition of success.

Our lives are not meant to be a reflection of someone else’s definition of success.

Misplaced Identity

I used to be someone who narrowly focused on achieving tangible goals (ie. losing weight, saving money, spending less time on my phone). While pursuing goals helped me change my behaviors for a temporary period of time, it didn’t lead to permanent, long lasting changes. Why? This was because I focused on outcome rather than identity. All of my actions were in pursuit of changing what I wanted to achieve rather than centering around who I wanted to become. When I shifted my habits towards pursuing an identity, I found that my daily behaviors began to shift in that direction as well, which in turn, led to achieving consistent results (shout out to James Clear for teaching me this concept in his book, Atomic Habits).

By actively changing my mindset, I laid down the foundation to allow for better habits to build upon themselves. 

I went from → 

  • Comparing myself to everyone
  • Believing I’m a failure
  • Thinking I have no potential
  • Feeling insecure 
  • Giving up constantly

To →

  • Believing I am capable and worthy
  • Seeking joy each day
  • Viewing setbacks as tools for growth
  • Living with confidence
  • Using failures as learning opportunities

So What Can You Do?

Let me be real. This process is not a one and done deal nor is it an overnight transformation. Anything worthwhile will take time, patience, and effort. You must be willing to ask yourself the following questions:

How do I perceive the world and myself in it?

What kind of mindset do I hold about who I am? 

How does my mindset affect how I live my life?

Does my behavior and lifestyle reflect who I want to become?

Self awareness and proactiveness are major aspects of evolving as a person. You may not be in control of life circumstances or other people’s reactions, but you are in control of how you choose to respond and adjust accordingly. When you are certain and confident in your identity, then your actions and interactions with the world around you will reflect what’s inside. But if you’re not in that head space yet, no need to be overwhelmed! Like I mentioned before, this process takes time and effort. You will get there if you apply yourself repeatedly.

Here Are My General Tips:

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  1. Pursue an Identity: Instead of trying to change your behavior by solely focusing on chasing results, start by deciding who you want to become. This identity may evolve over time and that’s okay! Your identity is the core that will ripple out into the other layers of behavior change.
  2. Select 1-3 Habits: With a spur of motivation, it’s easy to think you can conquer the world and try to change everything in your life (speaking from personal experience). However, the goal here is to make long lasting changes so focus on just 1-3 habits you can add or adjust in your daily life now. Other habits can be added along the way. Start by consistently mastering a few at a time.
  3. Make Minor Adjustments: Research shows that drastic alterations (ie. New Year’s resolutions) often backfire and lead to failure of adherence more than 50% of the time. Yes, you will encounter a few setbacks, but with minor adjustments, those setbacks can be easily corrected overtime. Even a small 1% positive difference in your life each day for a whole year will result in you improving 37 times by the end of the year!

You don’t need to rely on a detailed rulebook to start your own glow-up transformation. Real process of change starts when you decide to make that happen for yourself. The rest follows one step at a time!

[If you stuck around til the end, thanks for reading this long-winded blog post about me trying to explain my thought process]

In health and confidence,

Esther

References:

Covey, S. R. (2004). The 7 habits of highly effective people: Restoring the character ethic. New York: Free Press.

Clear, J. (2019). ATOMIC HABITS: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones. Random House Business.

Dweck, C. S. (2016). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House.

Norcross, J. C., & Vangarelli, D. J. (1988). The resolution solution: Longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts. Journal of Substance Abuse, 1(2), 127-134. doi:10.1016/s0899-3289(88)80016-6

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