Monday 2 December 2019

Letting go of the *should*

I had it all planned out: a night away in a romantic hotel. A three-course dinner. Dancing. Lots of champagne. A stroll through the village lit up with thousands upon thousands of twinkling Christmas lights. A lazy swim in the hot springs, steam curling in the cold night air, the dark night sky with millions of stars stretching above us. Getting dolled up in a glittery dress, putting on heels, curling my hair. I thought that would be the perfect way to celebrate my upcoming 40th birthday. It sounded lovely - but for some reason I couldn't really get excited for it. 

All I want right now is to be home. Sitting by the fire in my Shed Shed, a cat on my lap and the dogs stretched out all around me, reading a book and sipping a glass of wine.
Or snuggled up on the couch, Lily next to me and Rich across from me, all three watching the puppies play. 
So I did something I never thought I'd do: I cancelled the romantic get-away. Instead of wining and dining at a resort, I will celebrate where I'm happiest: at home. With the love of my life, my dogs and cats, eating a dinner I cook myself. We will still have champagne (duh!), I'm getting dressed in my sparkly dress, and Rich promised me to somehow fit 40 candles on a cake. (It has to be a damn big cake to achieve that, and there's nothing wrong with that. The only thing better than cake is more cake!)

I'm so excited for it! We are going to get our Christmas tree tomorrow, and by Friday I will have transformed our cozy home into a twinkling winter wonderland. After dinner and cake we will watch a Christmas movie surrounded by our four-legged family and I'll be in bed by 10. Perfection! 
I have never been so content and happy in my life. After feeling to varying degrees unsettled, discontent and unfulfilled for most of my life, I have finally found it: peace. I am completely at home in my body, my home and my relationships. Never before have all three aligned, and I'm beyond grateful. 
It's difficult to pinpoint when or how the change happened, but it all started with this: I stopped the *should*. 
In my twenties, I thought I should be skinny, fit and popular. I was under the impression that I should enjoy clubbing, concerts and wild weekends. I was convinced that I definitely should have a girl posse and a bestie I would talk to on the daily. 

In my thirties, I thought I should be a mother, career-driven and not satisfied with simply having a job. I believed that I should push myself out of my mere job and into a creative career (i.e. being a writer and author), because all the people I admired and followed on social media had their own businesses in creative fields. 

Throughout my lifetime I believed that I should wear more make-up, "do" my hair and join a gym.
I thought I should have a cleaner home and cook more.
I thought I should be nicer and more outgoing. 
I believed others when they told us that we should live differently, more conventional and like "normal people". 
I thought I should want what other people had: a big house, 1.4 kids, 1 dog and 2 vacations a year. 
I thought I should be less awkward.
I thought I should live less in my head and more in the real world. 
I thought that I should try harder to be someone I'm not.

And where did it get me?  

Last year I felt like a failure because I hadn't managed to become a best-selling author. 
Five years ago I berated myself for not being blog-famous. 
Ten years ago I felt like an inferior woman because I started to realize that I don't want to have children.
For the last 16 years I mostly despised the holidays because I thought my family was more flawed than others, I didn't do enough, and I wasn't the poised and gracious hostess I thought I should be. 
Twenty years ago I hated how I looked, I didn't know what career I wanted or where to live, and I had no idea what to do with my life.   
The only solution? Stop believing you should do anything you don't want to do. 
Get to know yourself, really know yourself. Not only the brave face you put on for the outside world or the nasty demons in your head that tell you that you're worthless. Get to know everything in between: your quirks, your likes and dislikes, what you love and what you can't stand. Tune out the expectations from outside. Look at yourself with no judgement, and appreciate everything that's unique and special about you. This won't happen overnight; it took me many years to fully get to know and love myself. 

But once you do? You will experience a peace and contentment that nobody else can give you. To be unapologetically yourself is the biggest gift you will ever give yourself.  You *should* really give it a go! 😉
Coming back to my upcoming birthday: doing "something special" for the big 4-0 was another *should* I bought into. I thought I should have a party, or at least a special get-away, to properly mark the occasion. Turns out that was the outside world penetrating my mind and not what I really want. 

So I cancelled what I thought I should do and celebrate the way that feels most like me: low-key with my inappropriately large number of dogs and cats, my inappropriately old husband, overdressing for a night at home and eating cake that I'll bake myself. I can't wait. 

If you liked this post, I wrote an entire book about this subject! You can get Quit the Hustle here

Top and bottom photos: Merritt PRO PHOTO



  1. This post is on FIRE!
    I had the same realization after I turned 40 too. Your night sounds perfect! Welcome to the best decade of your life girlfriend!!

    1. I CAN'T wait!! Aging is the biggest and best adventure I've ever been on 🙏

  2. I love this! The phrase I always go back to is "Don't should all over yourself."
    I second you (and Mary Long), turning 40 was all about finding out what works for me. I stopped worrying about what other people thought I should do and started focusing on what I wanted to do.

    1. I haven't been so excited to enter a new decade since I turned 20 😉 - getting older is nothing but great so far. And I love the phrase "don't should all over yourself", it's brilliant!

  3. I really love this! Your birthday "in" sounds wonderful to me!

    1. To me too! I'm so relieved that I don't have to go away tomorrow lol

  4. I literally was just talking about this with my therapist!!

    1. Oh wow, that's awesome! I think we've all done way too many things because we think we should and are expected to by the outside world and not because we really want to. It's incredibly liberating to get passed that and just do what we actually want!


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