For Anna Pepe, alone time is non-negotiable. It’s something the 24-year-old talks about on social media, where she has around 35,000 followers on Instagram and 121,000 on Twitter. On April 9, she tweeted“Distancing yourself from those who don’t value your time and energy is taking care of yourself.”
“Self-care” can mean a lot of things these days. Pepe, a manifestation coach and hypnotherapist in Philadelphia, defines it as something that puts her in a good position to make sure she’s prepared for what the universe has for her. At a bare minimum, this usually requires morning meditation, and sometimes she will also take time for herself throughout the day, perhaps in the form of another meditation or going for a walk without a helmet.
“We need a phase in our lives, or maybe a chapter, to focus on ourselves and ask deep questions, like ‘Who am I really?’ and ‘What is what do I want to do with my life?’ And it has to be done alone,” Pepe told Bustle over the phone. “Maybe it sounds harsh, but we have to set clear boundaries.
In the wise words of TikTok, setting clear boundaries and focusing on ourselves means she’s into it The IDGAF era, which the creators of the platform demonstrate as times when personal needs and desires reign supreme. These can be simple, like don’t give a damn while filming a dance or skincare routine, or more extreme, like ignore calls — even if this action results in lost friendships.
The term “personal care” has moved to dominant vernacular after the 2016 elections and has been a trending topic — and a source of criticism — ever since. Most people trace this usage to the late black poet and activist Audre Lorde, who wrote in the late 1980s that “Taking care of me is not self-indulgence, it’s self-preservation, and it’s an act of political warfare. Lorde was talking about taking care of yourself, especially as a black woman, so you can have the energy to care for others and deal with racism, sexism, and the burden of fighting for justice. The term has since been morphed into something closer to “wellness,” meaning a nebulous term for self-healing and feeling better. And like anxiety and depression rates continue to rise, there is a lot of money to be made there; in 2021, McKinsey, the consulting firm, estimated the the wellness market will be worth $1.5 trillion and will expand worldwide.
This “wellness market” today often includes skin care products and salon treatments within its purview. “Sometimes [self-care means] go to the spa and take baths and go to Lush and buy bath bombs or whatever,” confirms Pepe with a laugh. But she clearly balances those business tendencies (which, it should be noted, are solo activities) with free practices as well.
This view of self-care seems different from Lorde’s. His version was to take some time for yourself before returning to fight with the outside world – respite. This IDGAF era is more about a lifestyle of taking time for yourself to daydream, maintain inner focus, and savor time alone. What if self-care didn’t just cost us money and make us selfish? What if it makes us lonely too?
Last year, education researchers at Harvard found that young adults (aged 18 to 25) were hardest hit by loneliness in the pandemic. They were in their prime teenage or college years when COVID hit, a time that is usually very social, but spent that time in lockdown instead. To quote some viral tweets from earlier this year: “Be picky about who you surround yourself with” (9.4K likes), “Limit people’s access to your life” (33.3K), Where “become a ghost” (46.4K) may not be joyous expressions of downtime, but perhaps one of a generation of people for whom taking time alone has lost its negative connotations and become normalized.
So is this generation lonely? “I’ve met people in my practice who become deeply involved in healing and self-care in ways that become so compelling they can’t live their lives,” says Whitney Goodman, Florida-based LMFT and author of Toxic Positivity: Keeping it Real in a Happiness-Obsessed World. “They often turn into a full-time self-improvement project and struggle to just be. …Anything that forces you to isolate yourself for long periods of time or exclude important people from your life can become a problem.
Age could exacerbate the problem; or a reflection of the slightly selfish nature of those years. “In high school or college, there’s this groupthink where you have your little group of friends,” says Pepe. “But there must be a time to find yourself and ask for what you want now.”
It’s all a fine line, says Goodman. “People need time alone to heal or focus. Sometimes it’s necessary and other times it can be used as a form of protection or avoidance. This is where it becomes problematic. »