Unhealthy Habit: The Listicle

I’ve been thinking a lot about unhealthy habits. I first began thinking about these when I found out about my gluten allergy. It really got me thinking about the things we do to our own minds and bodies that can actually make us unhappy or unhealthy. The one that has been weighing on my mind lately is this:

The habit of living your life by the listicle.

Listicles are a very popular type of blog post right now, and I think they are a great way to deliver content that is easy to read and digest. However, the content of many listicles are what bother me. “How to Know He’s Cheating on You,” or “10 Signs You are an Obsessive Girlfriend,” or even “18 Signs You’re in a Relationship With Your Horse.” No, I’m not making that last one up (see below). So many articles that are targeted to my age group (college women ages 18-22) focus on telling you what is wrong with you, your friends, your significant other, your lifestyle, and more.

this is a caption of real search results.
This is a caption of real search results.

I won’t lie, throughout my life, I have been someone who thrived off of articles like this. I read them feverishly in order to feel like I was normal or to get reassurance that I was doing the right thing. When you are worried about something in life, it is comforting to have someone who doesn’t know you and can’t judge you tell you you’re okay. If you are concerned about what decision to make, it is nice to find an article that tells you you’ve made the right decision – or that you’ve messed up and need to run the other way.

However, I realized that I had gotten into a nasty cycle. I destroyed a relationship that meant a lot to me because I was listening to advice from people who did not know me or my situation. Maybe I felt lost and didn’t have a loud enough inner voice to drown out the words on the web. Each time I listened to this strangerly advice, I became less and less happy. I became more confused, and I couldn’t come up with an answer when I asked myself what I wanted or felt.

Some things you have to feel out on your own. Your instincts, feelings, and thoughts are your best guide. Be confident in your own ability to problem solve. Trust your life’s worth of mistakes and experiences. They have prepared you for everything you’ll face in life, and you really can do it on your own.

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