Lent is one of my favourite times of year. I don’t really know why because it involves self-sacrifice, not something I particularly enjoy, and I’m not at all religious, but something about it gives me a sense of satisfaction that is worth the sacrifice. Like a lot of people (I hope), I fake productivity by watching YouTube videos about people changing their lifestyle for the better, rather than actually trying to change my own.
I have a huge list of things I want to eventually do: be zero waste, be a minimalist, live out of a capsule wardrobe etc. I make all these grand plans and occasionally clear out my room or make less trash one week but I never really commit because the task is so daunting. Lent makes this easier because you only have to make one small change, and only for just over a month. If you don’t like it, you’ve at least made a difference for that time and can say with certainty that it’s not for you.
I’ve always been one for giving up weird things for Lent. The two that spring to mind are giving up Friends (the TV show) and giving up Facebook. The Friends one may not sound that difficult but at the time I was watching the same two episodes four times each a day (thanks, Channel 4) so it really was quite problematic. The Facebook one turned out not to be that difficult, but this was back in the day when most of my communication was still via text and I didn’t rely on Facebook pages to organise my social life.
I fake productivity by watching YouTube videos about people changing their lifestyle for the better
Although with both of these cases I immediately started watching Friends and using Facebook again as soon as Lent was over, I do think it was more purposeful than before. I no longer sat in front of the TV for four hours a day watching Friends, and rather only watched when it was an episode I genuinely liked, and I started to use Facebook more for actually communicating with people rather than just Farmville and whatever the big memes of 2012 were.
For Lent this year I’m giving up Amazon. This is for a mix of social reasons, them treating their workers poorly and driving independent booksellers out of business, and personal reasons, my Amazon habit being financially unsustainable and my room being too small to fit any more random stuff (I’m looking at you, extendable marshmallow fork). Lent is traditionally not really about self-sacrifice, it’s about self-reflection. It’s about getting rid of all your distractions and then thinking about what’s left.
Personally, I get very easily overwhelmed by the amount of stuff, both physical and digital, that makes up most of modern life. Lent is a way for me to try and pare this down and get a little bit closer to achieving one of the things on my long list of lifestyle changes. Also, I do just quite like the slight superiority I feel on successfully completing Lent whilst still eating all the crisps, chocolate and biscuits I want.