We do not need to be fabulous!

A few years ago I went along to hear author Jane Caro discuss her latest book Plain Speaking Jane.

Plain speaking! She sure was. But every single word that come out of her mouth was like some sort of mini truth bomb that exploded in my brain. She spoke about the enormous amount of pressure that women place on themselves because we believe that we all have to be FABULOUS.

We are now not all expected just to be, but we need to be FABULOUS. I rarely put photos of myself up on social media because when I do, I inevitably get feedback on how I am not ageing well. How is one supposed to age well? Please, a genuine question here!

The pressure is unrelenting and it is EVERYWHERE. Watch tv ads bursting with BUSY MUMS who are wearing white dresses with full hair and make up, smiling when they spy a spill on the floor knowing that they have to perfect product to fix it. AND THEN THEY SMILE AS THEY WIPE IT AND I AM NOT LIKE THAT.

I spy a spill and yell at the kids to come and clean it up. They both have an enormous fight about who spilt it, and then no one cleans it up until I slip on said spill and lose my shit.

The pressure is unrelenting. One in three women now suffer from anxiety and is it any fucking wonder? We hold ourselves to an impossible standard and want to be seen as perfect. Can we please stop this now?

Jane says “There is nothing special about you. Terrible things happen to everyone. Safety is an illusion. Danger happens.”

So of course when she said that, I was all like “Great Jane. Thanks a bloody lot.”

“Trying to stay safe is a waste of time.”…. oh fuck

“Anxiety is trying to pre-disaster everyday” … you don’t say?

But then she said something at the exact same time that I realised that I couldn’t keep up with her words, and so I hit record on the voice memo thingy on my phone. And it all made sense from then.

“I was worried about keeping safe. Now I am much more accepting that I can’t and that terrible things might happen but I’ll worry about the terrible thing, when it happens, and not before. I think that that is the possible true meaning of Shakespeare word when he said A coward dies a thousand deaths. A brave man dies but once. He didn’t mean that they go out to battle and thats it. He means they don’t pre anticipate constantly what might happen. And so they kill themselves over and over and I think anxiety is primarily a malody of control. An attempt to control the uncontrollable. What I was learning was what I could control, me, my responses. What I was going to worry about and take care of. What was my responsibility and what wasn’t. And what I couldn’t control. And once I learnt the difference between those two, my anxiety dwindled away.”

Truth. Bomb. Big. Time. You cannot pre-empt what is going to happen, so why worry about it now?

Does any of this make sense to you?

  • Heidi D

    This is something I have to work really hard on. I tend to think of all the things that could potentially happen. I have realised to keep my anxiety to a minimum I have to focus on things I can control rather than focusing on “what if”. There will be plenty of time to worry if something does actually go wrong

  • My life mantra since having 3 kids, is why worry, it might never happen. Similarly, why worry over something you have ZERO control over. Still, I from time to time freak out, but then that’s what happens when you’re responsible for other people……

  • SO much sense. Pretty much the way I try and live – which is challenging when Dragon Dad tends to see the worst case scenarios far too frequently.

  • Mel

    “I rarely put photos of myself up on social media”.


  • Tracey

    I don’t really know how I learned this but it is how I live my life and it is so much easier!

  • Jane is my female guide. I have been in love with her truth, honesty and passion particularly relating to public schooling since she first started writing about it and speaking about it in all kinds of media. Her book was an eye-opener for me too as she struggled with her anxiety and then… how the children’s hospital doctor “enlightened” her about the fact that we control nothing. Except our ability to keep on going. She has been a caring FB friend to me since my cancer diagnosis and we met briefly once but her comment to me recently as I recounted how I am overcoming my anxiety were that old well-known “I find you have to feel the fear and do it anyway”. Her daughter Polly Dunning is HS teacher and mum of one now (Jane adores being Grandma!) and she too is writing and commenting on aspects of mothering and life as a mum. Totally love the commonsense here Mrs W! Love to you Xxx