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Letter from the Editor

Letter from the Editor 03.01.2022

On self–care, obsessive tendencies, and the difficulty of finding balance

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Photo: Lilian Liu

At the risk of sounding like Cosmo circa 2011, I recently decided to try a new self–care challenge. But unlike its twee–era predecessors, the TikTok–popularized “75 Soft Challenge” doesn’t hold you to unrealistic standards or punish you for being human.

That’s because self–care isn’t an issue of discipline—it can’t be. As I sat down to write my goals for the 75 days, I kept returning to a single question: Why am I doing this?

I started listing reasons—mostly constantly getting winded walking up the stairs to my apartment and hating that weird feeling you get in your stomach when you forget to eat protein—but realized that none of them were true. Or, technically they were, but they were all hiding the deeper truth.

The real reason I wanted to try a gentler wellness challenge is that I struggle to find a middle ground between obsession and apathy. When I “waste” a free Saturday morning watching TV instead of doing yoga, or when I drink less than my goal of three bottles of water a day, I spiral into a cycle of self–hatred and end up giving up entirely. It feels impossible to escape the all–or–nothing mindset that permeates my life, even when it runs contrary to my well–being.

Even if my lack of balance isn’t unique to self–care, it’s where I feel its effects most pointedly. Too much focus on eating nutritious food can quickly turn into unhealthy thought patterns, but too little can leave you feeling lethargic after going three days without eating a vegetable. Too many hours of exercise might leave your body injured or exhausted to the point of making the next workout physically impossible; too few might leave it stiff and achy. 

I probably won’t find a perfect balance in the next 71 days. There’s a good chance I never will—I might be stuck with a pendulum forever, always swinging between too little and too much. 

That’s what this week’s issue tackles head–on. Our feature looks behind the curtain of @pennmemes, asking when a passion becomes an obsession. Our film & TV roundup offers a playlist for your next day off, and our piece about spending a day by yourself is a blueprint for restoration.


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