One of the biggest lessons I learnt at university was that it’s okay to like what you like.
It sounds so simple and obvious when you write it down as plainly as that, but after being around people at university who looked down at everyone and everything that didn’t conform to their own personal views of how things should be, I started getting into the habit of explaining myself.
The light bulb moment came when my friend Lannee looked at me during one of these explanations and said, “Beth, you don’t have to justify yourself.”
And she was right.
I’d become so accustomed to backing up my opinions, no matter how straightforward or inconsequential they were, that I’d begun to defend myself automatically. Putting the disclaimers out there, just in case. (I still have to stop myself from doing it when I meet new people.)
So I made a list. A list of things that are both big (people and my career) and relatively smaller (my skincare habits. Seriously, I’m obsessed) so I could get some clarity about what matters and what doesn’t. And I’m sharing some of the list today.
Doesn’t matter: What other people think of me — it’s none of my business and you’re never gonna please everyone.
Does matter: What I think of me.
Doesn’t matter: Having a traditional 9-5 job. Well, if the job is right for me then I’ll take it, but I’m also open to finding something less conventional if it suits me.
Does matter: Getting my writing career going.
Doesn’t matter: Publishing a fiction novel.
Does matter: Publishing a book of my own autobiographical writing, with plenty biography thrown in for good measure. I love reading fiction but I find non-fiction so much more fulfilling to write.
Doesn’t matter: People who look down on my eating habits (no meat, limited dairy, and plenty of avocado on toast, fyi).
Does matter: Making my eating habits as ethical as I can, and eating healthy food that also tastes amazing.
Doesn’t matter: Sleeping in a tent with no access to hot water or clean toilets. Sounds like a random one but you’d be surprised by the amount of people who think I’m missing out by not having any interest in camping. I like walls and a solid roof over my head, ta.
Does matter: Sleeping in a comfortable bed with a bathroom mere feet away.
Doesn’t matter: Anyone who tells me my skincare routine is ‘excessive’.
Does matter: Cleanser, acid toner, face oil, moisturiser, spot treatment. Happy skin.
And perhaps most important of all…
Does matter: My friends and family. Spending time with them is what keeps me going and I want them to be happy.
What’s important to you? And what doesn’t matter? Let me know in the comments!
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Beth, 25, South East England.
Lover of books, dogs, yoga, travel, gin, and the Oxford comma.
I write about cruelty-free beauty, vegan & veggie food, and trying to lead a less wasteful life. I throw the odd think piece in there, too.