Yesterday I went to visit a co-working space close to my parents' home. The internet at my parents' house is pretty temperamental and I needed a place to get out to and be around other people whilst I work.
It's based in an old mill down by the river. It's full of artists and photographers and people working on very beautiful and exciting projects. Exactly the sort of things I'm interested in.
The space is beautiful. Big old rooms with stone walls and art all over the place. And lots of classes going on too - yoga, meditation, art workshops, gong baths.
The people I met whilst visiting the space were lovely. So welcoming and friendly. There's a small café run by a lady who makes homemade soup every day and freshly baked bread. It was delicious. Really delicious.
It "should" have been a clear yes.
Except it wasn't.
I just didn't "feel" it. I just didn't.
And so I came back into town to sit and work in a coffee shop and yes, I felt so much more at home here. So much more able to work. So much more in "my" place and "my" space. So much lighter and more energised and clear headed and motivated to do the work.
Except there was also this going on inside the little hamster head:
"But Leah, you should want to work at the co-working space. They're all about community and looking after each other and eco living and collaboration and all the stuff you say you want. You'd be a better person if you wanted to work there and not sit in a coffee shop where, yes, you have people around you but you're essentially isolated too because you're just working on your own thing."
But you know what?
Because you know why?
Because this is the story of everything.
Shouldn't be so sensitive.
Shouldn't share so much on the internet.
Shouldn't want the things you want.
Shouldn't feel the way you feel.
Shouldn't say what you really think.
Definitely shouldn't have this part of you that wants to be seen and heard and be out there. GOOD people don't have that desire.
Should fit into the story of what you think is right and what would make you a good person and a right person and a moral person and a person without, well, without any real human stuff at all.
Should want to stay in the UK. Shouldn't want to travel. Probably you're running away. Not possible that you just want a little more sunshine and adventure.
Should, should, SHOULD.
Basically saying that all your natural preferences and tendencies are WRONG and that changing those things about yourself would make you RIGHT and BETTER.
It's tiring, EXHAUSTING, always trying to fit into an idea of what you should be. Trying to be different to how you actually are because THAT person would fit more nicely into an image of what you think would make up a better human being.
It's OK if you're shy and sensitive.
Or if you're not.
It's OK if most people bore you.
Or if they don't.
It's OK if you're just not into freakin' co-working spaces even if EVERYONE else seems to love them.
It's OK if not ALL people are YOUR people.
It's OK if you have this crazy desire to perform sometimes and be seen and be out there in the world.
It's OK that you like what you like and want what you want and are who you are.
I mean, yes, OF COURSE I also think it's always good to look at yourself and ask questions and dive into the thoughts that come up and not just blaze through life without any sort of care or consideration to anything whatsoever.
But at the end of the day it's OK to have your preferences. They don't make you bad. And the sooner you (and I) give up that idea and just accept who we are and what energises us and what our preferences are and what lights us up, then we can go ahead and USE that energy in the world and give what we have to give instead of always apologising for it and trying not to be THAT person.
I've been out of London for a couple of weeks now. I'm out in the countryside in a slower pace of life. Everything feels smaller here. Everything literally IS smaller. The buildings are smaller, the roads are smaller, the people...ok, the people are NOT smaller. And I LOVE being out in the countryside. I love seeing the sheep and the cows and flowers and being around all this green.
And it's showing me that YES, I was right that I needed more nature in my life. This definitely calls to me. More nature. More outdoors. More AIR. More quiet.
BUT, it's also giving me another piece of the puzzle. That I don't want small. I wrote this a couple of weeks ago about how following YOUR heart may mean smaller, not bigger. How it may mean more local, not more global.
But because I love to contradict myself, to be wildly inconsistent and to keep you on your toes, let me say that following YOUR heart may also mean bigger, HUGE, global, being seen and just being totally out there.
That's ok too. Small is ok. Big is ok. Local is ok. Global is ok. Different people want different things. People ARE different.
I accept, own and embrace about myself:
I like working much of the time surrounded by people but fully left alone.
I want to build something that touches millions.
I like thinking and dreaming BIG. I'm fed up of demonising that desire.
I want to be SEEN (don't we all?) and to perform sometimes. I have wanted and desired that since I was a little girl. It has ALWAYS been in me. Prancing around in my frilly red leotards and being secretly happy when the year 7 girl playing Mr. Darcy in the Junior Drama script I'd written with my friend couldn't perform one night so I got to do it and be up on that stage even though it was for the year 7s and I was Sixth Former.
Does it make me WRONG or just a person who has a hint of desire for performance in her?
Here's something I've learned over the last few years of running an online business and creating my life the way I want it - everyone everywhere is full of advice for you. Everyone everywhere is living from their own story. Everyone everywhere is ready to jump in and tell you what's right for you and what's wrong for you. Everyone everywhere thinks they're right.
And, if you're anything like me and have a strong introspective and questioning nature this can all get pretty overwhelming because sometimes you question the shit out of everything and don't know where the hell YOU really are in it anymore.
Tune into your preferences.
Stop demonising them.
Own them, use them and ENJOY the fact they're a unique part of who you are.
AND IT'S ALL JUST. OKAY.
Love and courage,