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It’s quite incredible how many people don’t know the difference between spiritual intervention and having rich parents.
In many ways, I am not a good person. I am depressingly online and my favourite type of person to follow is the lifestyle influencer. I’m curious as to why their life looks like a Teenage Dream, and my life looks like the shit songs in Katy Perry’s back catalogue. I work just as hard as they do, maybe harder. I freelance and contract and casually work until the soles of my feet are one big callus. But still, I have to experience winter like a loser while they sip wine in a European summer.
They live a perfect life, while I sit in the unwashed pair of my partner’s trackies that I lovingly refer to as “our tracksuit pants.” Of course, I want the perfection these influencers have. For I too dream of owning two pairs of tracksuit pants.
Luckily, they’ve let us know their secret: they manifested it. Manifestation, or “the law of attraction,” has its basis in Eastern philosophy. The basic idea is that if you put good stuff into the world, you get good things out of it. Like Nutrigrain for the soul. But as with an inconsiderate neck tattoo of a sacred symbol, that philosophy has been twisted by the worst people you know.
And it came to The West the same way Dr. Phil, liquid protein diets, and the other great evils of the 21st century did: through the Oprah Winfrey Show. I have no strong feelings about Oprah, though I do enjoy the delightful Instagram posts from her veggie patch. But on her program, she introduced us to a little book called The Secret. What is The Secret? I’ll tell you. It’s that you’re about to waste $25. And the rest is history.
I’m not going to pretend that I know what the universe is made of. But it’s safe to say that unknown forces of this dimension are not banding together for the sole purpose of getting you Taylor Swift tickets.
But maybe I’m just hard and cynical from all the logic I’ve been forced to use. I probably shouldn’t judge manifesting until I’ve tried it. So I did. Anything that involves scented candles and sitting down I’ll try at least once. There was a job I really wanted so, I did what the life influencers told me to do. I focused hard, I pictured myself getting that job, I wrote out the steps it would take to get that job, and I worked through the steps to get that job. Day in and day out, I repeated my mantras and wished with all my heart that it would be me. And guess what? I didn’t get the job. I felt ripped off. It was a waste of a perfectly well-scented candle. But was the problem me? Did I just not “want” correctly?
My frustration with manifestation goes beyond being grumpy with influencers or being fed up with fads. I’m tired of the onus of success being placed on the individual. Succeeding shouldn’t be seen as a solo pursuit but as a group activity. I would be nowhere in my life or career without my support networks. I’m a soft-spoken person who struggles to form connections but it’s amazing what happens when you ask people for help. Think of it this way. I would rather watch a movie that was made by a crew, rather than one lone genius breaking his back to make “perfect art” (here’s looking at you Nolan, Oppenheimer better be worth my money.) But the modern way we think about manifestation isolates us from the community. We think we have to make it on our own to be valid.
Here’s the real secret. Do you know who can make it on their own? Rich kids. They have family security which means they can take big swings and risk it all. Because if they fall, someone will be there to catch them. You’d feel more than comfortable pursuing a career as a fitness vlogger if your dad was an investment banker.
I worry particularly for aspiring mums when it comes to this stuff. I’ve had friends desperately “manifesting” when trying to have a baby. Their disappointment when it doesn’t happen for them is compounded into an inedible and dry guilt sandwich. Because they’ve spent all this time and energy manifesting, they think it’s their fault when they can’t make it happen. That they didn’t want it enough. When disappointment hits, you can’t add self-blame to the pile-on.
We are human at the end of the day. We’re all space dust bitten off from the same pile of moon rocks. A by-product of a disjointed universe trying to exist in chaos. The universe has got a lot of stuff to worry about. Do you think it has time to focus solely on you? No. Not when “And Just Like That” is on. That’s too much chaos for one reality. You can work hard in this life. You can upskill and put yourself out there as much as possible. You can take every “Teaches Self-Expression and Authenticity with Ru Paul” masterclass in their catalogue (you shouldn’t). But if something doesn’t happen for you, it’s not because you didn’t want it enough. Whether that be you miss out on a job or life opportunity, it’s not always your fault.
Maybe I don’t want to get rid of my communal pair of tracksuit pants. While it’s normal and healthy to aspire to new heights, I like that there is something warm and familiar in my life. I want to celebrate the parts of my world that make space for me. There’s a place for me and my butt to come home to that does not judge, that does not blame, it just gives me comfort. And who could want anything more?
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