Soft Life: What it is and Why it Needs to be Canceled

As a proud older millennial, I have accepted that I won’t know all the latest lingo. Recently, I was introduced to a term that at first glance was inviting, so I ran to Google to learn more. Soft life (#softlife) was casually used by a girlfriend as we discussed life goals. In my search, Urban Dictionary describes soft life as a life of ease without requiring hard work, sacrifice, and unpleasantness.

woman in convertible with feet up poses by private jetMy initial reaction was laughter, then confusion. I couldn’t believe there was a world where people didn’t work hard, sacrifice anything, or experience any unpleasantness. Who is living this type of life? My research continued and took me to Instagram. On that app, there are many images and videos showing what this life looks like. I noticed that all the videos and images I saw with this hashtag belonged to women except for two accounts that had couples in the video. The images showcased what Urban Dictionary described. A luxurious life, life without work, a life where you only allow things that bring you happiness. A life where one benefits off someone else’s hard work. That’s when I started to get angry, and if I’m being honest, worried.

Soft Life is Unrealistic and Dangerous

lounge chairs by poolI’m worried about a world where everyone wants to experience luxury without putting in the work. As a mom of 4, I don’t want my children to grow up in a world where everything they do must be luxurious and require no work. Soft life is not only unrealistic, but it is also dangerous. How did we get here in our society? What was the catalyst that sparked this movement?

Could it be that the reason soft life came about is that for all our lifetime, women have had the short end of the stick? No matter how far back you want to go in history, women carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. I understand why women, a group of people who have been oppressed for so long, are looking for ways to experience a better life.

There is a fine line between wanting to live a luxurious life and being lazy though. Luxury is subjective, and I want every woman to experience luxury because we deserve it. However, as any woman with children, a marriage and a job will tell you, soft life in these roles are impossible. Having and taking care of children is the hardest job I’ve ever had to do. I’ve had to sacrifice my time, my body, and sleep. It’s not luxurious but it’s also the best job I’ve ever had.

My husband and I have been married for 13yrs. The work it takes to stay married and still like each other has been hard work for me. Before marriage, I spent years in therapy, and I continue to do hard work on myself to help my marriage thrive. In the 20+ years I’ve been working, I’ve experienced much unpleasantness. I haven’t had a soft life, but it has been an enriched life filled with people I love and some I don’t particularly like much.

I hope that soft life is just a fad and that like skinny jeans and diet culture, it will be canceled. I know that I’m likely an outlier and this might be controversial. I stand firm when I say soft life breeds laziness. Most people were not born with silver spoons and even if they were, someone had to work hard for that spoon to come about. There is a type of satisfaction that comes as a result of hard work. When I complete a project that required me to work hard, there’s a feeling of accomplishment associated with that.

Challenges Build Character

backs of 3 women with arms around shouldersAlthough I’m not there yet, I imagine parents of adult children who are healthy and thriving feel a sense of pride. The sacrifices they made as parents bore fruit and they see that in their children and generations to come. Soft life breeds lack of character. When we experience challenges in life it builds our character. It shows us how strong and determined we are. I wouldn’t wish the pain of infertility on anyone. The years of dealing with IVF showed how well my husband and I work together to accomplish a goal. It brought us closer to God and it showed us who in our circle was consistent. When your life is easy, can you trust that the people in your circle are there just for the pleasantness? How much can you trust a person who only wants to be by your side when life is easy?

Instead of a soft life I’m going with a peaceful life. That is a campaign that aligns best with reality. Finding peace in life doesn’t mean life is easy. It just means that you prioritize taking care of your mental health. It means finding people who love you through the good and the bad. It means working hard to get the things you want. It means experiencing some unpleasantness to accomplish a greater good. So, I wish you and yours a peaceful life.


 

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Ese is a proud Nigerian American who spent most of her teenage years and adult life in Cincinnati, Ohio. She moved to Houston in 2012. Ese is a bonus, foster/adoptive and IVF mom. Her journey to motherhood wasn’t traditional but it’s been a remarkable ride. She has a passion for people, and it is reflected in the different ways she’s involved in the community. As a Junior League of Houston member, she loves serving the community with other strong women. Her commitment to her faith serves as a foundation in all aspects of her life. She’s a proud Buckeye {OH-IO} and a lover of most sports. After spending a year in Mexico, Nigeria and Colombia, she and her family moved back to Houston in the Spring of 2019. Ese spent most of her professional career in the Manufacturing industry doing Export Compliance. She is known as one who has never met a stranger. She loves connecting with and bringing women together. She may not be a fan of the traffic in Houston, but she has fallen in love with the diverse people and the amazing food options the city offers. When she’s not working and running her small business, you can find her listening to books on audible, catching up on her favorite podcast, hosting brunch with new and old friends as well as connecting with her online girlfriends on Facebook.

14 COMMENTS

  1. Amen! Challenges build character. Naija no dey carry last– but we must carry O!! Also this is my favorite of your writings, signed your #1Fan!

  2. Lovely article Ese..I agree , we as a society shouldn’t be promoting the soft life. Our children must learn that hard work is the key to success and achieving all the luxury in the life.

  3. This was so poignant and well stated. I just saw this phrase on Instagram through a black love reel and I was like wtf is a soft life lmao 🤣 much like ur self I am a elder millennial and much goes over my head. But I completely agree with your views and agree much like alot of bad fads this should be canceled. I have had a hard knock life. Filled with challenges and break throughs. Now while I am growing to appreciate and accept the darkness I can recognize the value in having a life that is no cake walk. There is much to be gained through having a life with dis ease. Wisdom and knowledge being two. So thank you for ur words and thoughts. You are far from alone on this one

  4. Excellent!! The idea that life and its relationships, situations and circumstances should flow organically and just happen goes against every element of nature. Whether it’s the work of a seed in the earth or the birthing of a baby or the development and growth of anything – work, commitment, extending of self is of absolute necessity. “Soft life” is not that! It is a fantasy.

  5. Respectfully, this sort of misses the whole point of what a soft life means… it’s not about living in luxury and mooching off of others. That’s just the “instagram” version of what this means. In reality lots of people living the soft life still work hard and raise families.

    What soft life is really about is not letting yourself live the lifestyle of working 24/7 and being in a constant state of burnout. I don’t think older people realize how insanely hard it is to make a living as a young person – we put in SO many hours and have to fight to get even the most basic of starter jobs or internships. And no, we’re not lazy – idk if you’ve looked at job listings but every job wants you to have 5+ years of experience just for a basic salary. How is anyone supposed to get started? I was lucky enough to land a great job one year of college – but I don’t have any health insurance, PTO, or sick time. I basically can never have a day off, or I’ll fall behind on bills.

    There’s also this mindset that’s rampant in American culture that you have to work constantly to be successful or happy – the “work hard play hard” mentality. You have to be the best at your job, have a lucrative side hustle, and run your social media like you’re a marketing manager – all while maintaining a social life, romantic life, parenting, running a home, caring for sick or elderly relatives, exercising and eating well, dealing with sexism and racism
    and homophobia, worrying about politics and the environment, and a billion other things. It’s just too much. It leads to insane burnout, feelings of worthlessness and failure, and mental illness.

    In my own experience, I developed an eating disorder while at my previous job bc I felt like I was never good enough or deserving enough of food or happiness. Later on I had applied for a better position in the company, and I told myself that if I didn’t get it that I was going to end my life, because if I wasn’t good enough to get a simple promotion then I wasn’t good enough to live at all. I didn’t earn the position, but instead of ending it all, I had this divine wake-up call where I thought, “wait a minute, the reason I didn’t get it isn’t because I’m not worthy, the reason is because my life is meant to be so much more. God didn’t make me to work to the bone and be miserable and starve myself, he made me so I could spread love and peace and joy to others.” I quit my job that same day, and when I got home I drank a whole can of my favorite sugary soda because I thought “screw it, I deserve to be happy and enjoy the things i love.” I took a few months off to focus on my mental health, go to therapy, and decide what my priorities were in my life.

    And THAT’s what soft life is about – not being lazy and greedy, but prioritizing mental health and doing what is in your own best interest instead of what’s in the best interest of a company. I still work but I place more boundaries – I don’t work overtime, I don’t stress about work while off-the-clock, and I do the minimum I need to in order to complete my job and earn my income. And I focus instead on my own life – doing the things that I find fulfilling. For some, yeah, that might mean booking that vacation you always wanted or treating yourself to little luxuries. But I think for most people, myself included, it’s just the little things in life that we want – taking the time to tend to my plants, baking my favorite cookies, lighting candles and reading a book.

    I’m not trying to attack your POV – I agree that people have to work (whether that means at a job, at a relationship, or to raise kids) and that laziness and greediness are bad. The point i’m trying to make so that too often we are expected to put ALL of our energy into work, to the point that we’re miserable and unhappy, and that we have lost sight of who we are. All that we want is to live our lives and experience every joy that we can for as long as we are alive on this earth.

    • *The ONLY comment to READ is RIGHT HERE^^*
      – Thank you Sophie! Such a great, well written post.
      – This is the exact thought that speaks to me and my whole cohort in our 20s and 30s. To have a #softlife are the ultimate goals.
      – To embrace this idea is to love yourself and invest in wellness.
      – If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that life is precious. Do you know how many people in the U.S. died from COVID? Over 1 million! From one spontaneous virus. You can’t spend life wasting away working all day and night. You have to have time for yourself and relationships to breathe in and enjoy what life really is all about.
      – No one on their death bed wishes they worked more in life…
      – The perspective of working hard to be successful is embedded in the immigrant mentality; but what happens when you reach that goal and you are living in your success? Do you continue to slave away and not enjoy your wealth/career/life? *Insert Hell no MEME here*
      – I’ll tell you all here; as the daughter of a hard working immigrant and descendant of slavery, I’m now a doctor and capital F anymore of the struggle. Life is too hard for nonsense, so let’s make it nice and soft. If anywhere, at least in our minds.
      – You don’t need exorbitant material wealth for a soft life…
      – This article demonstrate a lack of understanding of the concept and I agree that it misses the point completely. That is how it opened. It read as someone unfamiliar with the term, making assumptions based on misleading social media context.
      – I never post anywhere, but this article made me so upset I had to relay my concerns.

  6. Thank you! Working hard builds character. It’s a bit concerning that this “soft life” narrative is being pushed. At work, these “soft life” people are the first to be let go during a lay off.

  7. I must agree with Sophie on this one…

    The “main” point of the “soft life” is to simplify, reduce or remove the complexity and stress of the “norm”. It promotes a healthier lifestyle and better balance between work and life by attempting to replace the typical, 9-5 routine with a much more flexible solution.

    The typical 9-5’er will spend 12 hours a day with work (working/commuting) leaving very little time to enjoy life. Soft Lifers strive to maximize their work time, thus leaving more time for enjoyment of life. The “instaglam” version of that which is most commonly seen is mostly fake and not representative of the real soft lifestyle.

    Wouldn’t you rather spend your day with your kids, teaching them your family values and irreplaceable life skills as opposed to sending them to a public school for 7 hours a day while you go off to work?

    There are ways out there to earn an income without chaining yourself to someone else’s desk for 8 hours a day. Ways that make it possible to replace what you earn today with only a couple of hours a day of your time. So, instead of spending 12 hours a day on work, and 4 with your family/friends flip that around and spend 4 hours working and 12 hours with them instead. I’m doing it myself right now!

    There are still challenges to be faced because building your own business, your own future and a legacy for your kids isn’t easy; but the rewards are awesome. Best of all… no more fighting traffic and no more stressful jobs with crazy bosses wanting you to volunteer your time to the company.

  8. In reply to Sophie: The idea that lack of experience being a barrier is not a new phenomenon. This is coming from an old millennial bordering on Gen-X. So that’s just to say that older people have lost touch with the youthful struggles in the job market and also to make it clear that struggles are not present even after having all the experience. The world is always finding new ways to ask for more.

    On the other hand, I fully support the idea of prioritizing health – mental, physical, and spiritual. Ultimately no matter how much your company values you as a human being, if you dropped dead tomorrow they would find a way to replace you. It’s not a knock against the companies really, it’s just reality and the fact that life goes on. So you have to be more aware of your own health and the quality of your life.

    However as an older gentleman once again, I agree with the author of this post – you cannot have success at life without hard work. That does not matter what you call “luxury”. So a “soft life” of enjoyment and peace is practically an oxymoron. You can have a more peaceful and balanced life without the constant grind of work but it will be plenty of hard work unless you are pinching pennies and have a very low standard of living.

  9. Edit

    So that’s just to say that older people have NOT lost touch with the youthful struggles in the job market and also to make it clear that struggles and barriers are STILL present even after having all the experience.

  10. I just want to agree with “Sophie” and “Dave Young”,I am a 33 year old Black Queer Woman who is childfree by choice and what a soft life means to me is to give up the lie that I have to be availble 24-7 for a job, have to accept that I will work up to and possibly past 60 and that I’m obligated to find value in my life beyond my own joy. A soft life to me looks like not taking a meeting before 10am so I can walk my dog and wake up slowly. It also means that yes if I want a material thing like a name brand purse or dress I can just do it because I want to I don’t have to justify it or think about someone elses needs before I do what I want. Embracing all this has been awesome to me, I work a full-time job (no more then 32 hours) fully remote and throw my money at travel and buying real estate to fuel my lifestyle. It may be unpopular to say but I don’t want to work hard or develop anymore character. I want to live a soft life of easy living and happiness so I hope a soft life isn’t a trend that gets canceled because its a dope life that everyone deserves. The best part is you get to define what soft living looks like for you.

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