“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
I have since read Woolf’s books again and again: in cafes and on trains,
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.