I’m ready for all your changes.
Cue: back-to-school energy and all the basic bitch fall attire. I’m ready for it all.
It’s a month on the calendar I’ve always observed as a transformative period — even more so than the New Year. I’ve been writing diaries since I was 9. I’ve kept them all. Between all those pages, there have been many significant Septembers before now (the year I vowed to win the 100m Sports Day trophy, and the year I was finally going to tell Kevin* that I liked him after school). But it was the September I headed to university at 18 years old, that I decided this was the month I would change everything. I would reinvent myself.
In those frayed pages, I wrote: “It’s so weird! I’ve left home. I’m an adult now. I pay bills! I am turning 20 soon and I hope I grow up this year and start making good choices and make my parents proud. I want to use my initiative more. I want to take more chances and go for my dreams without fear. I want to be a leader, not just a listener in every aspect of my life. I am going to be the best goddam journalist alive, haha, I am going to grab life with both hands. Xxx”
Looking back, some may call these optimistic ramblings by a plucky teenage girl, but I look at them more like manifestations. Because, well… she did what she set out to do.
All these years later, in 2022 — having repeatedly lived through unprecedented moments in history over the last two years — this seasonal shift feels even more transformational. This September I am asking myself, what’s changed? Who do you want to be? Who have you always been?
These are tricky questions.
Like many, I have struggled to fit back into the shape of normalcy after the most restrictive parts of the COVID era. It’s been a tug of war between wanting the “old me” back and accepting that I won’t ever be the same.
I’ve become an inside person and I’m less inclined to accept social invitations. I learned to love running and ran a half-marathon. Meanwhile, I went through a painful breakup at the very start of the pandemic and I moved in with my person at the end of lockdown 5 where I live in Manchester, UK. I fought depression for the first time and I’m finally taking my mental health seriously. I left freelancing and started a new dream role. Somehow, I like to cook now. Me. I was the OG workaholic and party animal with no time to sleep, let alone cook. But now, I don’t revel in busyness like I once did. I got older and I feel older. For the past few years, I have been in a period of flux and, now, this September I’m ready to plant my feet firmly on the ground. I really want to own this new me, whoever she is.
I don’t revel in busyness like I once did. I got older and I feel older... this September I’m ready to plant my feet firmly on the ground. I really want to own this new me, whoever she is.
This sort of intense self-reflection is born out of existing in a permanent state of survival mode. Amidst the pandemic, global unrest in 2020 and political and financial crisis, many of us accelerated our lives, relationships, and living arrangements when many were unsure what would happen next. It was dubbed, as Vicky Spratt wrote for R29, the ‘Great Acceleration.’ Now feels like the right time to take stock of some of the “f*ck it” decisions made when all hope felt lost.
Jyoti Mayani, 28, founder of My Wellness Company, similarly is using September 2022 to reflect on the whirlwind of the last few years.
“I left my job in December 2019. I used to be a primary school teacher and went to India in January 2020, learned yoga, came back, went to start my business, and we went into lockdown,” she tells me. “I got engaged. I bought a house and got married. So yeah, that was all within the last few years.”
“There were lots of times when I didn’t feel like I was coming or going, just doing,” she adds.
Mayani tells me she has been using the coming Autumn to embrace how her big life events have changed her as a person. This has included learning to be less of a people pleaser, setting boundaries, taking chances with her business, and going to therapy for the first time. “I guess it would be reinvention or I prefer to call it coming home to myself. Each time I heal myself, I peel back layers of conditioning and come closer to my true and most authentic self.”
I prefer to call [reinvention] coming home to myself. Each time I heal myself, I peel back layers of conditioning and come closer to my true and most authentic self.
Jyoti Mayani, founder of My Wellness Company
September also feels like the right time to embrace a new change of pace, even if it is slower than I am used to. In a recent Instagram reel, journalist Elaine Welteroth, as a new mom, said she is in a “self-preservation season” and embracing “sitting certain things out”. While I’m no mother, I get it and I’m reminded of Audre Lorde’s words, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation..”
Admittedly, the way I’ve treated myself in the past is more akin to self-sabotage.
I am not known to enjoy resting. And I rarely tell people no. I blame Shonda Rhimes’ bestselling book The Year Of Yes because I respond to every request with an emphatic and resounding “YES!” even when I can’t be arsed. It is my default response but it’s false. If I am to reinvent myself, I should be a person who thinks first of protecting her mind, not how she will be perceived once she sets essential boundaries.
To help, I’ve been reading the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown — and, let's face it, all the millennial self-help books right now — about why opting for less allows for more. “What if we stopped celebrating being busy as a measurement of importance? What if instead, we celebrated how much time we had spent listening, pondering, meditating, and enjoying time with the most important people in our lives?”
What if? I am intrigued to see what life could look like when I choose to honor how I really feel without fear or favor.
Reinventions can just be superficial (I am in the process of finding my next hairstyle as we speak). We often think of it as a celebrity switching up their sound and getting a Bad Gal RiRi pixie cut to match. For me, putting myself first and slowing down is my new sound.