no need to sparkle

“No need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.”

– Virginia Woolf (from A Room of One’s Own)

As a teenager, I was given a copy of A Room of One’s Own by a beloved, bookish aunt, but I properly discovered Woolf, as I suppose so many do, in the hushed environs of a book-lined academic study. Sitting around a large wooden table, pen in hand, we read Jacob’s Room and discussed the remarkable literary endeavours of 1922.

I have since read Woolf’s books again and again: in cafes and on trains, beside the swimming pool, in waiting rooms, and propped up against pillows at the end of the day. Her use of language remains astonishing, all these years later, and I carry her words with me as I move through my days, different sentences calling out to me each time I re-read her work.

I find that it is always the beginning of a new year which calls to mind her assertion that there is ‘no need to hurry. No need to sparkle. No need to be anybody but oneself.’ The online world can become particularly clamorous in January. It’s not just the messages of ‘new year, new you’ diet and exercise devotion, but also the insidious feeling that everyone else is forging ahead, filling notebook after notebook with amazing plans for productivity and success in the months ahead. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the pressure to hurry and to sparkle, at a time when really, all many of us want to do is hibernate.

It’s not that I don’t welcome the fresh start and clean page of a new year- I love the promise of January, the chance to begin again, to learn new things, to plan and to dream. I do have hopes and intentions for the year ahead- one of which is to return to this space, so long-neglected, to reclaim it and reshape it for the stories that I long to tell you.

I’m just looking to go gently in these first weeks and months, to remember that I’m allowed to take my time. This may not be the moment to sparkle and shine- which will surely happen for each of us, but only when the circumstances are right. I’m seeking the courage to feel that I am already good enough, that there’s no need, – in fact, there’s no way – for me to be anybody but myself.

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  • Oh I so agree. Here in Australia it’s very hot – which brings its own exhaustion – and despite there being a popular sense that we are all on our long summer holiday, most of us – including me – are actually still working. So I have simply not
    felt that sense of renewal or reset or exciting refreshment. Just the same old days where momentarily I think about what I’d like this year to look like before keeping on with what’s before me. I also whole heartedly agree with the not needing to sparkle thoughts. Reminding myself of this is such a relief. I’m hoping that not putting energy towards this will actually allow space and time in my days – oh that would be nice. And I’m also very very keen to return to thoughtful stories and lovely anecdotes and considering the dreams of others in that way that blogs used to do so richly. Thank you for all this to start my day. May yours be good too.

  • Any reminder of Woolf is a good one, but especially this. Especially now. It’s given me the permission I needed to go at my own pace. I am so glad you popped in here. Reading blogs makes me happy, more so than Instagram and other media. It’s here where I get to dive deep and find out more about someone. Thank you for this, I look forward to more.

  • I do so agree! And now that the soil is frozen solid outside, I am taking my break and pause.
    If I don’t take this time now, I always burn out sometime around August and then spend my favourite part of the year (late summer-autum) utterly exhausted and struggling to make ends meet energy-wise and joy-wise.
    Happy resting, Laura 🙂

  • I’m over fifty and I’ve never read A Room of Ones Own. I’ve always wondered whether it’s still relevant. After reading your post I think I’ll get a copy.
    Concerning blogging, I think people who love to read will always find the time, but for the majority it’s not a priority. Thank you xo.

  • Thank you for being the voice of reason. January often leave me feeling fretful as messages of new year, new you and resolutions are pushed at us from every corner. That quote and your thoughts are spot on. Here’s to taking the time to think about our next steps, whereever they may take us x

  • I love the planning and the filling in of notebooks and bullet journals in January – but I also know that none of it is really going to get going until spring! January is an awful time to start something difficult, such as a diet or exercise plan; I always save that sort of thing until the days are a little longer; it’s definitely time right now to be gentle with ourselves.
    I confess, I am a literary simpleton and I’ve never read a book by Virginia Woolf . Adding that to my To Do list right now!
    Enjoy getting back into blogging again – I’ll enjoy reading. 🙂
    Helen x

  • I have been feeling the same since the beginning of the year. I have left my office job to start something new – a business or new work or project, but instead I feel like I really need to slow down and actually stop planning and achieving something I am not sure and I don’t feel it. You have to listen to yourself and the universe inside of you will tell you the answers!

    Also I will definitely now read the book you recommended

  • so much wisdom and beauty in your words. i am so very glad in the re-appearance of such blogs as yours. thank you so much for writing and sharing again.