Exploring the pressures of “Being Your Best Self” during the pandemic

Trying to navigate the challenges of the pandemic, while also trying to avoid being sucked into Multi-Level Marketing companies

I have heard that if you don’t learn a new skill during the pandemic, then it isn’t time you lacked, it’s the discipline you lack so many times since this period of isolation began. The notion is that just because we have extra time, we should be jumping into learning something new. Shame and guilt are felt by those, myself included, who choose to sleep more or watch a full season of a show on Netflix in one day. I don’t think it is fair to be shamed for the decisions we make in our homes to get through this stressful time. I think many factors play into people not wanting to learn something new, and that is perfectly fine.

Both celebrities and people I know personally have been posting this “perfect” pandemic lifestyle on their social media profiles. I have seen home workouts, makeshift cooking shows, and flaunting of stuff they were doing before the pandemic even began. There is a sense of bragging that tends to come with these videos and posts as well. While they seem to be trying to spread positive messages, something gets lost in translation. This message of “be your best self” or starting a new journey amid a pandemic may not be the best information to be spreading.

Financial matters have been a tough subject for many people during COVID-19 due to employment issues. In my case, I am pregnant, so I would not be working regardless. However, I know people who have been affected by job layoffs, company closures, and salary instability. Many people have lost their work and do not know how they are going to survive during this time. My husband works for an essential service, and the toll that it has taken on us mentally has been hard.

People are in very vulnerable states, and rather than showing them sympathy and offering help, many use Multi-Level Marketing (MLM) as a way to take advantage of those who are struggling.  MLMs are direct-selling companies in which people are expected to recruit members to their teams, and are usually pushing a type of product. The product, however, is typically overpriced, or not of great quality. Some examples of MLMs are Beach Body and Monat. I have seen many YouTube videos telling girls to become “boss babes” and that now is the time to start their own business. The “business owners” get on social media and brag about how much money they get to keep making during this time. What they do not disclose is that people will probably be worse off financially, especially in a COVID-19 world, where money is much tighter than it may have been before. An example of how MLMs put people in a worse off position is 19 Amazing MLM Statistics You Should Read in 2020.

Recently, someone approached me with a supposed business opportunity. I had left a comment on a Facebook post about The Masked Singer, a show about masked celebrities who sing, and the audience and judges guess who’s under the mask. Moments later I had a direct message from someone I had never spoken to before. She mentioned the pandemic and how her business is booming, and wanted to know if I wanted to join. Her message had zero to do with my comment. It frustrated me that she thought since we shared an interest in a show that she could weasel me into joining her. I reflected on this, and realized just how fortunate I am to have a steady flow of income that I wasn’t tempted to fall into the MLM game. For people who are in positions where they don’t know where their next meal is coming from, there might be temptation to join in. What might not be realized is that the people in the MLMs are using the vulnerability that the pandemic provides as a means of preying on others. Most people who try to recruit are either up at the top, and are part of that successful 1 per cent, or they are being told by their uplines that if they do not try to recruit they can never achieve success. Sadly, most people know that the person they are recruiting will fail at the MLM business they believe they are starting.

When I found out about the restrictions around COVID-19, I fell into the trap of trying to cram my days with new things. I let the external voices try and shame me into being productive. I didn’t give myself time to adjust to this new reality. However, now months later, I realized that other people should not dictate the way I live my life during this time. I allowed their perfectly performed lives to nearly completely deter me from putting my mental health first. I have been able to read more and write more stories and poems, which I am happy about., I allow myself not to focus on what other people are doing during the pandemic. I think that people should make the choices that work best for them.

I sympathize with those who are struggling and have come to better understand that each person has their own way of dealing with the virus, and how they manage during this pandemic.  COVID-19 is emotionally taxing for everyone, and how others manage it, shouldn’t dictate how we manage it.

 

Feature graphic by @the.beta.lab

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