Pauliina Marjanen is part of a new generation of international brand ambassador. Young, talented, digitally fluent and not afraid to shatter the false veneer of social media and talk to us about her struggles and her commitment to #NoBadDays
The short story of how I can guarantee I will never have a bad day again.
It’s been a too long time since my friend Tim asked me to write something about myself, more specifically about #nobaddays for Healthy Hospo. Since then, I’ve had a lot of people ask me about the hashtag/motto I seem to be able to shove everywhere. Where did it come from, what does it mean? It’s a fair question.
As a rule of thumb, I try not to speak if I don’t know for sure what I’m talking about. That’s why, even though I literally deliver stories for a living now, I found it such a challenging task to share the story of my own health. I’d like it to be a story of how I’ve defeated my demons and found a way to live the dream every day but that’s far from the truth. So I must warn you straight away, what I’m about to tell you is not going to lead to an enlightenment that will result to you only ever having good days for the rest of your life. Best case scenario I will be able to drop a breadcrumb or two on someone’s trail. It’s worth a try.
Let’s be clear, I know a lot of things. I know my height, weight, visceral fat number, my BMI and BMR, cholesterol, blood sugar and iron levels, thyroid levels, vitamin deficiencies, metabolic age, basic heart rates, blood pressure… You get the point. I know pretty much everything about myself that’s measurable in a human body. However, most times it feels like I can say very little about my health. Specifically, about my mental health.
Like most of us battling mental health issues, it’s something I’ve lived with for most of my life, a part of me. Over the years I have found a few ways to combat it, like painting, meditating, plant-based diet and cycling, but the biggest thing for me has been the decision to change the way I look at my life, every day. And that is really what I want to share with you.
We all have our own perceptions about health and happiness, which is one of the reasons they are not easy subjects to discuss, even with the ones closest to us. Working in hospitality may make our issues seem even more contradicting when our work requires us to be somewhat social, friendly, confident and cheerful a large part of the time. Admitting to struggles can feel like a failure not just in personal life, but also professionally.
The fear of failing to be healthy and happy, and therefore failing in life has been my biggest demon.
Let me try and explain.
For the longest time, I felt like in order to be healthy and happy, I would need to live a perfect life every day. I had my own idea of what that would be and had to follow a specific set of rules to be able to go to bed satisfied in the evening. The problem with this was that should anything go “wrong”, I’d instantly give up and call it a bad day. And of course, working in an unpredictable environment, interacting with a ton of different people during my day, just generally being a human and living a life, I simply could never be fully in control of everything.
My imagined standards for success, a good day, were so crazy unattainable, I knew the moment I opened my eyes in the morning, there would be no way to reach them. So as a result, I’d start my day with the thought that I will inevitably fail at something today. And failing at something, anything, even the smallest thing, would ruin the entire day for me. Not looking right, not eating right, not exercising, not nailing every single cocktail I made, not being able to deliver perfect experiences to my customers, not telling good jokes, not being calm and collected in every situation, not being able to be genuinely happy and smiley. “I’m having a bad day”
Therefore, most of my days would end up being “bad” in my head. Being happy and healthy only ever felt attainable if I was basically alone, fully in control, looked right, sounded right and did everything right by my own personal playbook of happiness and health. But when that too (surprise surprise) failed to make me happy I was stuck in a paradox, feeling guilty, inadequate and hopeless. Now I guess anyone ever diagnosed with a depression can relate to that on some level.
Ok, so I definitely don’t sound like the woman who writes #NoBadDays in everything and even has the phrase tattooed on her arm.
This is where we get the most significant promise I’ve ever made myself, my life-changing decision. The story of how I actually ended up with the words “No Bad Days” tattooed on my arm is a different one (but let’s just say it starts with “a Mexican, a redhead and a nutcase walked into a bar”) and maybe I’ll get to share that with you in person one day, but the important thing is the message that’s grown into me somewhere along the way. It’s taken even myself a long while to truly understand the strength and the effect these three words have had in my life.
For those who don’t know me personally, I am not an overly positive person, but here’s my logic, my full circle of thought that I remind myself of every single day: I do not have bad days. There are days that are more to handle than others, days with a lot. There are bad decisions and bad ideas and bad words. But not any of these, no negative moment or thought can make an entire day bad. Not every day is good, but there is something good in every day (Yes, even January the 20th 2017) And therefore, no day is fundamentally bad. There’s no such thing. #NoBadDays
By understanding and believing this very simple statement I’ve managed to be kinder to myself, to let go of the fear of failing. I’d be lying if I said I wake up every morning thinking “this is going to be a wonderful day”, life just doesn’t work like that and well, my brain just doesn’t work like that before a litre of coffee. I am still not as balanced and healthy and together as maybe I’d like to be. But I promise to myself that I will not dwell on my mistakes and I choose not to let them stop me from enjoying all the good things in life. I will not be so hard on myself. I have decided not to let my desire to be healthy and happy be the one thing that makes me sick and unhappy.
So here are my breadcrumbs, for you and for me
- “BAD” is such a scary simple three-letter monster (other than meaning “sauna” in Swedish of course) It has an incredibly negative power. Stop using it to describe yourself or the life that’s happening right now.
- Do more epic shit and stop fearing to fail. Allow your mistakes to teach you and make you better, and then move on. You will have failures, that doesn’t make you a failure. You also have fingernails, but that doesn’t make you a fingernail.
- You do not need to be in control of everything. Not being in control can be awesome.
- It’s true that you are the only person who can really define your health and happiness. But sometimes it may be good to just let go and stop trying to define it. You do not need to be ashamed for not feeling healthy and happy all the time.
Finally, sharing this small story, seeing it all written down has been a really strange experience for me. And yes, I am shit scared to speak publicly with a voice I’ve only ever spoken to my close friends with. But like I said, if I can leave a breadcrumb or two on someone else’s trail then it’s been worth it. In many ways I feel like the act of writing and sharing this may just be a much stronger statement than the one it is about.
So I guess I’d like to encourage anyone with a story of their own to just share it. Look, I know how damn difficult and terrifying and daunting it can be. What our industry is really lacking is trust, in ourselves and in each other. Trust creates more trust. When there’s no trust, there’s no open discussion, and open discussion is the only way we can break taboos and remove stigmas around these subjects. A breadcrumb or two does not make a whole trail for any of us, but if we all pitch in it’ll be much easier to find our way.
If you’d like to talk to me or ask me about anything, please feel free to add me on the social media or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org