Minimalism receives a lot of flack for being all about the aesthetics. The white-on-white-on-white Instagram perfect shot. The loss of the underlying values. The competitiveness of owning less and less.
And I agree. Minimalistic set-ups make for a great Pinterest board. And of course, how would we know (care?) if everybody who clears out their closet does it for the right reasons.
But there is something to be said for the “picture-perfect” lifestyle.
In my professional role, I had to conduct some emotionally challenging conversations. It was difficult and humbling work. While I was training, our supervisors could always listen into our conversations, adding an extra level of anxiety – what if I am saying the wrong thing? What if I don‘t give the client enough space? What if I am not doing a good job? I enviously looked to my peers who were told in advance if their supervisor was attending a session.
Until I realized that it doesn’t matter. My role required me to be professional at all times – regardless of the observer. The focus of the session was on the client, not on me, my performance, my grades. Knowing your supervisor could observe you at any point was nothing but a reminder to never let your professional guard down, to always do your best.
One of my colleagues at the time told me: “Just pretend you‘re on camera.” And even now, long after I have left a client-facing role, I am still following this premise. I think about how I would like to be “seen” at work, and then act accordingly. This is not about portraying something I am not. It’s about always portraying the best version of the professional me.
And, oddly enough, I found joy in applying this method to my private life. Less as a “picture perfect” lifestyle, and more so as a focus on self-care, and understanding that I too deserve to relax and appreciate myself. When I see beautiful flat lays of somebody “just having a cup of tea” (that image of a white cup on a white saucer, a lovely biscuit on the side – yes, just the one) or the mood shot of “me time!”, I try to look beyond the beauty of the shot and see the beauty of the self-care it can reveal.
There is a certain mindfulness in the ceremony of making a cup of tea, of arranging it nicely, of taking the time to enjoy it. Of choosing to take some time out in the bath and making sure it is set up to allow for maximum relaxation. Of looking after yourself like you would look after a client, a guest, the people you love. Imagining yourself on camera can be a great reminder to re-evaluate if you’re living, and loving the best version of yourself.
About the Author: Leni is a professional writer and researcher, currently on maternity leave from a busy full-time job. She is passionate about minimalism and mindfulness and their potential for self-improvement.