I used to be an avid reader of Glamour magazine. I read the whole thing cover to cover, but my absolute favourite was their “Hey, It’s OK” column. In every edition, they’d share various funny and frivolous things like “Hey it’s OK to post an old photo of a cocktail so nobody knows you’re spending Saturday night with a face mask on” or “Hey, it’s OK to get scissor happy after three glasses of pinot, but deny to your hairdresser that you cut your own fringe.” It was a bit of fun; a way to let yourself off the hook for the times you fell hilariously short. But actually, I think we need to hear we’re OK a bit more often.
Because a lot of the time, you don’t know what someone else is dealing with – and I think a lot of us secretly don’t feel OK. I think a lot of us are struggling to keep every plate spinning, or feel stuck in a rut, or are stressed or grieving or just plain exhausted all the time. And even though we know what we should or shouldn’t do or feel, sometimes we just need to hear it again. So here’s my list of “Hey, it’s OK” things that I think we could all do will repeating every now and then.
If you can’t remember the last time every room in your house was clean all at once, it’s OK. As long as the downstairs is tidy when guests come round, you’re miles ahead of the game.
If your life looks nothing like what you see on Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest it’s OK – no one’s does.
It’s OK if your life hasn’t turned out anything like you planned it to. Maybe you were making the wrong plans. And it’s OK if you still don’t have any plans for your life. No ones’ plans work out perfectly anyway.
Hey, it’s OK if friends your age have marriages/babies/careers/houses or whatever elses that you don’t have and think you ought to have by now. Life is not a race or a checklist. It’s OK to not want marriage/babies/a career/a house or whatever else other people think you need to have to live a fulfilling life. Everyone’s perfect life looks different (and it’s also OK to want any of those things).
Speaking of which, it’s OK if your friends’ marriages/babies/careers/houses or whatever elses seem to be better and easier than yours. Everyone has their stuff they’re dealing with, even if it looks different to the stuff you’re dealing with. And, on the other side of that, it’s OK to have your dream husband/baby/career/house or whatever else and still complain when those things are hard work or stressing you out. Just because things are good doesn’t mean they’re perfect all the time.
If you’re too busy to learn guitar, or renovate the bathroom, or make your own bees wax wraps, or whatever it is you keep meaning to get around to one day, it’s OK to keep putting it off. The great thing about one day? It can be any day.
It’s OK to say no – even when you’re saying no to something good or worthwhile. There are lots of good and worthwhile things you could get involved with, and you can’t do them all. Or you can say yes to doing something, and then step down when it stops working for you. Life happens in seasons, and sometimes something just doesn’t fit anymore.
It’s OK to stop and take some time out for yourself even when you’ve got a crazy to-do list to finish. Top tip: you’ll never finish it, so pause and recharge before you crash and burn. On that note, it’s OK to tell someone you’re busy when you need a night to yourself. You’re busy looking after yourself. And it’s OK if you feel like you should be way more on top of things than you are right now. You’ll feel like Wonder Woman again soon enough, or it might be time to simplify what you’re trying to achieve.
If you have great people in your life, but still feel lonely or misunderstood sometimes, that’s OK. No person can give you everything you need to be happy all the time. And – here’s one for my introvert sisters – it’s OK to have great people in your life, but not want to constantly WhatsApp back and forth. It’s important to have time and space to be alone uninterrupted.
It’s OK if you have a great job, but still have days where you are stressed or bored and secretly plot ways to get made redundant or get knocked up for the sweet maternity pay (I can write this one without fear that anyone will think I’m thinking this, because anyone who knows my job situation will know that, if I do get pregnant, the maternity pay will be rubbish). It’s OK to have a great job, or even a great life, and still want more out of it. It doesn’t mean you’re not grateful for what you have.
If you feel like you have no idea what you’re doing as a parent, a leader or even a human being, it’s OK. Everyone else is faking it til they make it. It’s OK to fall gloriously short of being Mary Berry in the kitchen, Sheryl Sandberg in the boardroom and Dita von Teese in the bedroom. Everyone else, let women just be people and leave us all alone.
Speaking of leaving women alone, it’s OK if you don’t have Beyonce’s thighs, J Lo’s bum or Scarlett Johansson’s everything else. It’s OK to be tall, short, curvaceous, skinny, have big boobs, no boobs, boobs that are completely different sizes. All bodies are beautiful and different and that’s OK.
If you have no idea how to contour or do your eyebrows, it’s OK – you’re still a human woman. And if you love getting all dolled up, that’s also OK. And it’s also OK if you like to wear figure-flattering outfits or live your life in dungarees. Whatever makes you feel comfortable, you do you.
It’s OK the strut down the street with your head held high because you know you look good today and you’re feeling yourself. And it’s perfectly OK to have days when, even if you’re a body-positive feminist warrior, you just feel gross and can do nothing but lament your cellulite.
Hey, it’s OK if you’ve had a manic couple of weeks, and you’re dog-tired, and you can’t think of anything creative or witty or unique so you nick a long-running trope from Glamour and try and palm it off as original material. You’ll get ‘em next time…
Written by Chloe Satchell-Cobbett, Deputy Editor, Liberti