In January’s installment of her monthly mental health column, writer and author, Beth McColl, discusses the pitfalls of rebranding and why she’s not focusing on changing in 2022. Beth is the author of ‘How to Come Alive Again’ which is a relatable and honest practical guide for anyone who has a mental illness. She’s also very, very funny on Twitter.
I learned the term ‘2022 rebrand’ against my will. I was heading into the second consecutive hour of mindlessly scrolling on my phone (something I promised myself I’d do much less of this year) when I came across a TikTok that told me everything I never wanted to know about how to rebrand myself into an entirely better me in 2022. Naturally, I searched for more. One video began with a slideshow of aims and intentions (examples included vague advice such as ‘listen to more inspiring podcasts’, ‘take more risks’ and ‘create your own reality’.) Another explained how to use daily manifestation to get everything you want. Most of the videos were just very long shopping lists of beauty products, styling tools, exercise equipment, clothes, health foods and books that together cost about as much as a Nissan Micra.
I understand the desire to become new, to take what isn’t working and fix it, make it good, make it easy. There have been plenty of moments lately where I’ve wanted nothing more than to shed my grief and pain and damage and step into 2022 as someone – anyone – else.
The past two years have been so incredibly tough, and the idea that we could start afresh and upgrade ourselves so easily is a comforting one. But I also think the idea of a yearly rebrand or a glow up is far more likely to end up feeling punishing and disappointing than anywhere close to empowering. Humans aren’t operating systems designed to be updated again and again until nothing glitches or sticks or goes wrong. The striking of midnight on the 31st didn’t force us all through some kind of transformative membrane into a new year, covered in Automatic Personal Growth Goo. A disgusting image, yes, but one I’m sticking with. Just as I’m sticking with myself as I am- an imperfect, changing, worthy culmination of all my years of living.
I’m not anti-resolution by any means, and I know that there can be great adventure and joy in focused and deliberate change. There will be many things we want to achieve and have this year and there will be actions we can take to make achieving and having them more likely. There will be habits that stick and new approaches that really do improve things. An expensive exercise bike may well be the key to you experiencing genuine enjoyment with working out after years of it being a toxic chore. Going vegan could absolutely hold the key to your digestive happiness and relieve you of a lot of very real guilt. Sleeping better and reading more and spending less time looking at screens are doable, and their impact on your wellness could be significant. But I do think the idea of a full mind and image overhaul is really just a way to accrue personal debt and heap even more pressure on ourselves, all without actually improving the quality of our lives. Hours at expensive gyms, travelling to find yourself, sinking money into new journals and beauty products and a whole new wardrobe- these are not within reach for most people, especially not the women in their teens and early twenties who seem to be their intended audience. For anyone without great wads of disposable income or free time, they’re yet more ways to feel left behind.