Are we there yet?

I’m not embarassed to say that I am Substack fan. Not that I’m the “get the logo tattooed on my body” type of fan. But I am happy to say I subscribe to both free and paid newsletters.

And who thought we would be talking about newsletters in 2023. We reached Peak Podcast, what, last year? And seriously, I was a total podcast wastoid. Not the comedy, Joe Rogan type though. I’m a snob. I’m more a 99% Invisible girl.

I even hosted two wonderful podcasts until last year.

And I’m OG. I used to walk to work from Flinders Street Station to South Melbourne and listened on my iRiver. I can’t even remember how I got the podcasts onto the iRiver. It didn’t have wifi so it had a harddrive, and I still had a flip phone at that time.

I wish I could remember who they were, the podcast hosts. One was a weight loss guru. She talked about mindset and was very NLP with suggestions and talk of Kaizen, which means continuous improvement.

And then there was the American Buddhist monk who spoke about Buddhism in such a real way that it finally made sense.

But I’m not as invested as I used to be. Now I read newsletters. That’s a twist.

I read lots of self improvement and anti goal type Substacks. Creating more time, reading smarter, reacting smarter. Substack feels like when Etsy started and everything was actually handmade and it felt like you were in this niche little corner of the universe. It also feels like when you started using Google while everyone else was still asking Jeeves.

Substack feels like the blogs we used to read in the early 2000s. We used to read them and we commented on each other’s posts. Blogs could be an intimate journey into the minds of people we didn’t know. But we knew them so much, at the same time. We commented about the memories that were brought up, about how you interpreted the post, the LOLs. It was like social media. But very different. We learned to use CSS, copied and pasted YouTube embed codes into our html. We linked to one another in our favourites list in the sidebar. We learned how to make our blogs pretty and clean. No goddamned ads either. Not on real blogs.

I received the Zen Habits newsletter yesterday, with the headline: The Art of Effortless Decision Making
By Leo Babauta

I read it and was kinda floored. I forwarded it to Jeff and Holly with the comment:

You guys this is a really interesting read. Essentially the reason why we get stuck in indecision is because of fear. We fear failing or choosing the wrong thing, making a mistake. Then we feel guilt, second guess ourselves and feel miserable . But, he says, we’re better off not wasting too much time on deciding. Just trust your gut, know there will be mistakes, but we will learn how to pick ourselves back up at those times.

Later, Jeff came and sat outside with me and he said: “I don’t think we are stuck in indecision.” And it was such a relief because after I sent the post and comment I thought “I don’t think this is what Jeff and I do.” It was just good to get that validation.

Earlier I had been thinking about this. When I read self help or life hacks, personal growth, how tos, the assumption is that I don’t know about the topic, so I must need to read it and learn all about it to improve a part of myself that needs repair. This often leaves me feeling like shit because it’s “just another thing I need to fix.”

Why else would I be reading about it?

Danish ladies admiring Le Penseur (The Thinker) sculpture by Rodin, 1947, photographer unknown, Wikimedia Commons

But what if that’s bullshit. What if we are on the perfect trajectory already? That we are growing exactly as we should be. Even the so-called losers. What if what we’re doing is just fine?

So, I wondered, are personal growth newsletters (even the anti-goal ones like Mark Manson’s) to blame for our poor self-esteem? Are we already, in fact, the capable, minimalist, getting things done while practising yoga kind of people we long to be?

Is it possible that the answer to “are we there yet?” is “Yes, motherfuckers, we are.”

Well I lost track of what I was saying. What I’m saying is that reading newsletters is the new podcasts. I’ll bet money on it.