Friday, 4 March 2011

Aspirational Living

Hands up if you have ever watched a telly programme or seen a magazine advert and thought "I wish I had that life". I would expect to see all hands up right now and if you haven't well, you're either already living your best life (congratulations) or you have no hands.

These days we have what we should be, wear, own, and do rammed down our throats and we all aspire to this model of what we are told is a perfect life. But does it really matter whether our sitting room looks like page 27 of the Next catalogue, or we have the "stuff"? How many of us really, honestly, care? We're told we should, so we kinda do.

I'm not saying there is anything wrong with aspiring to have "stuff" and if that is really genuinely what you want that's great, go for it. But I think if we looked deep inside ourselves we would all find something different to aspire to. Something that really matters to us personally. I'm having that all too common getting older grief for things that I will never do. I'll never be a supermodel. I'll never be the youngest person to swim the channel. I'll never be 6 foot tall with a rock hard body. I'll never be that person with the perfectly tidy house, because frankly, I'm messy. But I never actually wanted any of these things. It was just always comforting to know that it could happen, one day when I was grown up. Well, reality check, BING , you are now officially, can't hide from it, a grown up. So what do you really want? You do know what it is. It's those little thoughts you have in those oh so rare moments of peace and quiet, those dreams that have followed you since childhood and never wavered. Those niggling feelings you get when you wake up in the morning and somewhere in your brain a little voice says "I wish I could be doing XYZ today" For so long I haven't been doing what I really wanted to do because I have let life take over. "I haven't got time" I say, "there isn't enough money to do that" I wail, but the real truth? Fear.

Fear is a great little tool when you're trying to save yourself from say, a wild elephant stampede or not walking down dark streets alone at night or other things that we don't do to keep ourselves safe, because but why do we let it stop us from doing things that we really should be doing? I read somewhere:

What would you do if you weren't scared?

I'd like to modify that slightly:

What would you do if you weren't scared/thought you didn't have enough time/didn't think you were good enough?

Fear, time, whatever, they shouldn't be a good excuse. And not thinking you're good enough certainly is not. Because what are we actually scared of? Failure? Is failure really an option? If you do something you believe it and it doesn't work out does that mean you've failed? Or just that it didn't work? They are two very different things. Besides, trying something and failing is far better than not trying at all.

One of my old boyfriends had a poster in his room of a rock climber, it said "Face your fears, live your dreams". I must have laid in that bed looking at that poster for hours, I loved that phrase, I loved it so much I was thinking of getting it tattooed on me (I didn't, too scared). That was 13 years ago. Have I really faced my fears and lived my dreams? I've faced a lot of my fears, and lived some of my dreams but I have still got that niggling feeling that I should be doing more. I have so many ideas of new things to try and experiences to have but before I even try them out loud a little voice in my head always shoots me down: "Just who do you think you are? You couldn't do THAT".

But surely everyone is scared? No one ever achieved anything without a little bit of fear pushing them on. Think of someone you think is successful, were they scared? Did they give in to the fear?

Its not just about careers (although that's the biggie). It can be about tiny things, about learning a new skill, visiting that friend you haven't seen for ages because they live so far away or even just picking up the phone and giving them a call, just doing something you know you want to do but something has always stopped you, fear, time, thinking you're too busy, whatever. Don't wait, it's not going to get any easier, you're never going to have more time, it doesn't need months of research to take the first step. I'm doing it with this blog. This is my first step and it's scary but I love it. Every day is a new life.

I've just got back from visiting one of my very closest friends who is running a pub with her boyfriend, it's not just a job, it's a whole new life. She and her boyfriend are absolutely fantastic at what they do, but that must have taken some serious balls to decide "right this is what we want to do and we're doing it". That's pretty inspiring.

It seemed so much easier when I was a twenty year old with no idea what the future would hold. I made the decision to do something and I did it. Uni, living abroad, whatever, why do we get so much more scared when we get older? We have a wealth of life experience to draw on, to say nothing of more responsibilities. We should be LESS scared. But as we get older we put ourselves into little boxes of who we tell oursleves we are but are we really that person? And as the box gets smaller and smaller believe me, you will start to feel claustrophobic.

So support your friends and loved ones to follow their dreams. Encourage them, help them, believe in them. Ask them to believe in you. And if they can't or they won't? Believe in yourself. Because I do.


  1. just checking to see if this post works x

  2. after all my years dealing with all my issues, striving to be 'normal' i have realised 2 things, 1. there is no such thing as normal, everyone is crazy to varying degrees and 2. If you arent scared ( even just a little ) then you arent living. Take it from someone who knows being afraid of life....there is nothing scarier so live it!!