A Light exists in Spring Not present on the Year At any other period – When March is scarcely here
A Color stands abroad On Solitary Fields That Science cannot overtake But Human Nature feels…
Emily Dickinson, A Light Exists in Spring.
Paris is back to life with the promise of spring. Restaurants are building their terraces for the hot season. People spread in parks covering the green grass like the colourful dots on a Seurat’s painting. I spotted several Parisians in shorts this weekend (and got excited as a kid). And I’ve already had dinner on my foldable balcony table (favourite piece of furniture ever). It’s official, pack your coats, prep your sandals, book a pedicure, show off your flesh folks, because spring has sprung!
But it’s not all picnics and flowers: there is this infamous day, every year, where I face a gigantic challenge. Frightened? Yes. Hopeful? Always. Mesdames et messieurs, we’re talking “swimwear shopping”. I nervously browse the latest bikini trends wondering if I’m still capable of pulling out an asymmetrical leopard vibe. Ending up in the fitting room with twenty different options (shapes, sizes and textures) because mummy didn’t raise a quitter. That first look in the mirror is extremely devastating, the Big Bang explosion once again. The last tango between the idea of you looking like Gisele Bündchen versus the reality of a white mass holding its breath, wobbling in front of its own reflection. You proceed to curse yourself for undergoing such a silly ritual every single spring. Did you know 95% of people believe they’re self-aware but only 10-15% of them actually are? At that point my brain wants to take action. I’m mentally drafting a fitness plan while I throw all my swimwear samples on the not-this-time grey basket. But what I don’t know yet is that fitness alone is not enough, because (spoiler alert) this year everything is about emotional fitness (since going to the gym wasn’t sufficiently painful).
Let me quickly introduce you to the topic. Emotional fitness does not mean crying while doing pilates (although I wouldn’t be surprised if that was an actual therapy exercise). Instead, it is the ability to mentally bounce back from tough times and maintain emotional stability throughout your ups and downs. ChatGPT (a.k.a the new shrink in town) says one is emotionally fit when capable of regulating their emotions and responding to others’ emotions appropriately. In other words, throwing your shoes at your boyfriend’s head would not be considered emotionally fit, try telling him: “I need a minute to digest what you have just done and work on a responsible reaction”. While the drama queen in me is dying of sadness and strongly believes emotional fitness is the end of individualism, there is some truth in it. We spend no time inside our minds. How can we prioritise our own needs if we don’t know them? Day one of the emotional fitness plan should be to identify your emotions, your patterns, your reactions. Are you a cry-baby or you avoid showing the world what you feel? This sort of data should be on the enrolment contract to the soul gym we’re so desperate to go to. From here, you can try different strategies to improve your emotional health, do more of what makes you feel good and set healthy boundaries (saying “no” as your new hobby). You might feel like pairing socks tonight, do it if that is what triggers your inner satisfaction. Write down random stuff that pops in your mind (this actually has a name: automatic writing. It consists in suppressing conscious control over the creative process, letting the unconscious mind have full ownership) or unplug your headphones and learn to navigate the silence that fills in the metro on your daily commute.
Life is life as Opus sings. And life will remain life, so there is only one sure learning out of it: you can’t change anything but yourself.