Stop Explaining Yourself & Do What Works For You

Did I mention I now live my life by a bullet journal? Just a lot? I thought so! Sorry about that, but I am truly loving it. Anyways a couple of weeks ago I explained that for each weekly layout I give myself a quote to ponder and where that quote naturally leads me to thinking about Living Narrow I will do my best to blog about it. You can read about the first quote that did here. This week also had me thinking towards our Living Narrow journey:

“Life is so much easier when you stop explaining yourself and just do what works for you”

Apologies guys but I’ve searched my fingers to the bone and cannot find the origin of this quote at all, should it be yours, well I thank you.

As you can see I’m posting my thoughts on this one quite late into the week, which mean it’s taken me a while to think about, and you might be pleased to know the response I am going to write is massively geared towards Living Narrow.

I may have mentioned that I have a predisposition to worry, I worry a lot, about all kinds of ridiculous things this in turns leads me to feel the need to always explain myself. The decision to stray from the nationally recognised plan of buying a house honestly terrified me, to a point where I almost didn’t want to tell people. Inside I was conflicted, I was so excited to be heading down this alternative path, one which would see us owning our own fabulous space, but at the same time I couldn’t help but imagine the eyes staring at you for doing something out of the ordinary. I didn’t want to be boxed as a floating gypsy, I didn’t want people to change their opinion on me. I dreaded explaining the choice we were making.

We kept it quiet from those around us until we were sure this is what we wanted to do, occasionally we would inconspicuously bring up the concept with friends, without saying it was something we were considering, all in an attempt to gauge people’s reactions. Honestly, they were as I expected people couldn’t get their heads around it.

When it finally came time to put on our grown-up pants and tell people, it was terrifying.

On the whole opinion was with us, but there was a lot of explaining ourselves, it got to a stage where I would start to explain our reasoning for choosing to live narrow without being questioned on it. Explaining the reason for choosing to live on a boat came naturally after announcing it, to a point where you often explained the reasoning before the result. Often, I found myself a little shy or dismissive of our decision, there was no reason for this as I said the majority of people were supportive of our decision, it was simply my own compounded need to explain myself.

But there is something in not doing the norm, not doing the expected, that does leave you feeling the need to explain yourself. This could be something as simple as deciding to dye your hair pink, you’ll find yourself being asked why, having to explain yourself all the time. Or if like me, you’re predisposed to worry you will find yourself explaining your choices without being asked.

When you sit back and think about it how ridiculous is this notion, this compelling need to explain ourselves and our choices. What does it really matter. When I think about the people around me, and strangers for that matter, I don’t much ponder the decisions they have made, for the people around me I care that they are happy and that’s where it ends. Whether that decision is conventional or not, I don’t give two hoots.

It’s hard to change your way of thinking, especially if you do love a good worry. I’ve found since living narrow my worries have slipped a little, I now don’t find myself explaining why, the choice to live aboard has become explainable in one short sentence:

‘Yes, we have a narrowboat, it’s absolutely fantastic’

The end.

But the answer for everyone can’t be to go out and buy a narrowboat. I think part of the relaxing with this has come from the move to living narrow being more successful than we imagined, that worry about it being a crazy notion, has for the most part evaporated. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but how can we bring that reassurance into everyday thought.

It’s hard to walk around with a notion of not caring what other people think, because truly, deep down, so many of us do. But should that stop us from making these slightly alternative decisions? Nine times out of ten, probably not.

What I’ve learnt to do is to evaluate things with a more level head, will this decision effect anyone’s life except for my own? When it won’t why worry about explaining yourself to others … just do what works for you.

James & Kirsty

A diary of live aboard life

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