permission to quit the “low-rent” experiences

Posted on September 14th, 2010

I came across this Danielle LaPorte post a few weeks back on giving yourself permission. She writes a very whimsical list of things we can all feel free to do. Or, rather, not do. She’s waved the wand. We’re allowed! They’re rather cute (I’ve posted my favourites below).


It’s a little bit like the idea of being “thoroughly me” which I wrote about a while back. When you work out what makes you YOU, it’s so liberating. You can make firmer decisions. You don’t apologise for yourself. You steer your little boat towards things that count.

A way to do this (to work out what makes you YOU)  is to actually go through your life and identify the things that shit you, or give you that hunched, gritty, grey, niggly feeling when you just IMAGINE doing them. Then you tell yourself, actually, there’s no need to do that anymore. I mean, really. No. Need. In most cases.

I’m doing that right now. After getting back from my holiday I realised a lot of my life is spent doing “low-rent” stuff. That is, things that are low-quality for me. I accept jobs that are not part of my ethos. I help people who are takers. I take part in after-work activities that are obligations, but don’t make my heart sing. I say yes to meeting up with people who don’t make me feel warm and heartened. And days can go by and I wonder why I don’t feel magnificent.

What stops me from dropping the low-rent stuff is

a) not having perspective – when I’m bogged down in the quagmire I don’t access my feelings to see if an obligation or whatever is making me feel grey and niggly.

b) I’m scared that I’m not allowed to. But, really, it is just about giving yourself permission. No one else will. Who really cares? Only you. So just choose. And see what happens.

Right now, I’m freeing myself of a few low-rent experiences that have been bogging me down.

* Returning calls and emails from people who only want something from me is one.  If they need me, they can track me down. This is hard…I’m a compulsive follow-upperer…but, seriously, the onus is on the other person.

* Chasing up people who say, “we should catch up”. I always follow up. I’m letting it rest for a bit and allowing the tables to turn. To see what happens.

* Doing vigorous exercise. It’s just not suiting me right now. Walking and yoga it is, for a few weeks.

* Eating proper dinners…I’m kind of liking doing random meals. Like anchovies on toast with a side of spinach. For breakfast, I had rice the other morning with haloumi. I’m a bit “meh” about square meals right now. Sick of being so vigilant.

* Following important people on Twitter. I just can’t care.

* I also liked this one from Danielle: “Cut out the elements of your business that you don’t totally LOVE. The parts that 90% of the time make you say, “WHY am I doing this? I don’t WANT to do this.” This is taking some thinking. It’s quite fun. Something is going to have to get the chop…

The rest of Danielle’s list below (an edited version). Feel free to add to it, to inspire all of us out of any rut we might be in!!!

: not finish reading books that you’re not really enjoying. Don’t force it, close it.
: walk out of movies that suck (and hey, if you leave in the first twenty minutes, you can get your money back.)
: own next to nothing, live on a mattress, read and write and make love all day with no other responsibilities***
: return crappy products to their crappy manufacturers (because you can vote with your dollars.)
: tell your kids when you think that something an authority figure told them is bullshit (you need to be in solidarity with your child, not the so-called grown ups.)
: quit your job, even if you just started two weeks ago, or just got a raise, or are seemingly indispensable.
: cut out the elements of your business that you don’t totally LOVE. The parts that 90% of the time make you say, “WHY am I doing this? I don’t WANT to do this.”
: give away/recycle/get rid of stuff, stuff, stuff sentimental stuff that special people gave you (your home is for you, not them); stuff that doesn’t make you feel good even, if you spent a lot of money on it; stuff that has intense memories attached to it; stuff!
: say no to “free” stuff, like swag bags at fancy events and novelty erasers and pom-pom pens from the bank. (Because the only thing in life that’s free is love.)
: leave work early, get some ice cream, and sit in the hot tub at the gym
: focus more on creating your soul job and less on finding a ho’ job.
: check your email whenever the hell you want.
: start now, without the degree, without the funding, without knowing exactly where you’re going.
: walk away.
: fall in love.
: eat dessert first.

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  • Mia

    I am going through a bad break-up (literally just this weekend) and have done something similar. Permission to wallow and cry? Yes. Permission to sleep a lot, not exercise and eat cake for breakfast? Yes. Permission to do anything I damn well please (as long as I dont call him up) for this week only? YES. Next week I start the business of making myself feel good again. And will most likely write a list similar to yours to help get my “self” back on track after a surprise heartbreak. But this week? Complete freedom. Because sometimes you need it.


  • Hi Sarah!

    I feel compelled to comment on this post. I used to wish SO BADLY that I could do all of these things but I felt like I would be selfish in doing so. How could I quit a job I’d just started (but loathed)? How could I leave friendships that were great in high school but had no reward now? But after some of my own soul searching, intense Internet research (um, this website) and a real hard look in the mirror, I’ve found that these are exactly the things I need to do to be happy. I was miserable before, always crying, always wondering what happened to the bubbly, happy person with a complete love and awe for the world in High School. How did she become cynical and let go of her hopes and dreams? Someone recently told me I’m a giver and a bit too sensitive for my own good. I never saw myself this way, but after cutting out some (seriously!) toxic friendships where I would give, give, give and the ‘friend’ would take and then some, I feel so much better. Yes, sometimes I feel a pang of anxiousness, but god dammit I needed to do it FOR ME.
    That – and columns like this – make me excited to cleanse negativity from my life and make small changes for the greater good of me. I no longer think that’s selfish. I think it’s necessary.

    Thanks for being (what feels like) my own personal mentor.
    T x


  • Stacey Williams

    Good on you Mia…well put! Enjoy (as much as possible) your week of freedom and mostly enjoy your future that is all about things that make ‘you’ feel great!


  • It’s liberating isn’t it!
    Although, I confess, I’m not too keen on the ‘low rent’ tag.
    I prefer to think of the experience (let’s be honest it’s an ongoing process!) as doing things and spending time with people who add value to you and your life from the inside ie: they make the little people in her heart dance a jig and your eyes shine with smiles.
    Afterall, isn’t it about smiling more and frowning less 🙂


  • A

    i got my nails done the other day and had my hair cut and curled today. i’m a uni student and work part time in retail so generally that type of thing is frowned upon. my mum says getting your nails done is reserved for people who have retired cause they’ve worked so hard. who says we can’t have the distraction? i feel very pleased when i look at my nails cause they’re normally chewed and torn. and i’m pretty damn happy with my princess hair. totally going to have carbs after 5pm too.. in my pjs… in front of gossip girl… and i’m not going to feel guilty about it… pretty sure that the life-sucking rule of no carbs for dinner isn’t written anywhere


  • This is brilliant Sarah, thank you!

    I love the idea of deconstructing all those “wisdoms” unblinkingly dispensed to us, which actually don’t make much sense… Why not just forge our own paths? Why do we have take the expected route? I mean, it doesn’t seem to be working too well, as it is.

    My low-rent experiences that I am going to drop is forcing myself to wake up early. I would really love to be a morning person but forcing the issue isn’t doing me any favours. As it is, I don’t need to rise early. I am a uni student and my boyfriend is a chef who finishes work at 11pm so sleep-ins are conducive to our relationship and my schedule. Also, I always get my greatest inspiration in the evenings. This poem sums up my feelings exactly:


  • I still only eat dinner so I can eat desert. For many many years I have had a magnet on my fridge that says Life’s short – Eat desert first! I have been consciously aware of recognising when I am having a #fullfilling day, these are the days when there is no space for low rent activities as my day is filled with activities that are enjoyable, make me smile or tightly interwoven with the life roles that I have chosen for myself.


  • Ah, yes! Following important people on Twitter. I have noticed most of them never say anything interesting.

    Also, I love Mia’s comment. Yes, Ma’am. Do whatever you please. You sound like the kind of lady who will recover beautifully.


  • Ian

    I just heard this quote from Seth Godin which I thought was particularly poignant: “Happiness’ best friend is kindness.” I like that. And it reiterates a point Sarah made in her recent Sunday column on random acts of kindness –


  • James

    My ‘low rent’ experience is to stop checking my work emails after work, on weekends and holidays and blame work for ‘me’ getting so worked up. I’m the goose checking them……bye bye emails on iPhone! So thankyou for the post Sarah.

    Jo-living savvy….too funny, I predominately only eat dinner to eat desert afterwards. I really look forward to that bowl of ice-cream. My running helps me justify it though. I also love breakfast since adding Activite to my cereal. It’s like eating chocolate cereal…..I love breakfast time.


  • Natalie

    I’d consider vigorous exercise a low rent experience for me too, but the feeling afterwards is, uh, high rent? Amazing.
    I’m also sick of actively trying to eat enough vegetables. I like vegetables! Surely I will get enough not planning how many I’ll eat a day.
    Inspired again, thank you.


  • I love this…it feels more right, as long as you’re not hurting people, what does it matter that you want to do the things that make you happy. You should, everyone should…just be honest and live true to yourself…


  • Lisa

    : leave the dishes in the sink after you’ve eaten and not wash it up immediately to go bludge in front of the tv

    : foresake the weekend laundry in order to chase the sunshine on a glorious weekend

    : wear the same knit top a couple days in a row

    : to let your friends see you on facebook wearing the same outfit to a few occassions/events

    : have you a photo taken of you without your make-up

    : to say ‘NO’ to your manager when you have been given work overload

    : feel great that you can stay in your pj’s all day on the weekend


  • Camille

    pfffffffffffft – obligation to earn money – make ends meet, raise children and keep a house in order prevents me from removing the majority of what I consider to be ‘low rent’ activities from my life. It’s been YEARS since I felt magnificent.

    If only all of us had the luxury of being able to be so self indulgent and utterly selfish. This is ‘ideal world’ stuff, it’s certainly not my reality or the reality of 80% of the struggling population in this country.

    Just quit your job? are you serious?


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  • Winnie

    Vigorous exercise is not something that I am attracted to and I don’t enjoying taking a whole chunk of time to do it but I believe in incidental exercise and I recently decided to be serious about stretching everyday for flexibility and suppleness. I use a book on stretching from Bob and Jean Anderson. I love the pictures and the super duper easy short routines. I don’t do it everyday but I aim to make stretching a daily habit, something I do without thinking. Stretching is so portable, easy, relaxing, time saving and I always feel good and elongated after. I make myself climb five flights of stairs at work everyday, leaves me puffing. And my tummy is trimming down. That’s my version of exercise for now! (oh yeah, I also believe vigorous house cleaning is a good one, and then stretches before and after :).


  • this is pure sunshine. i needed this so badly. i’ve bookmarked it.


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  • Grace

    Low rent indeed. I have never enjoyed drinking alcohol, and although I occasionally will have a glass of wine with dinner, I usually only drink under peer pressure or out of courtesy to whoever I am with (I know how ridiculous that sounds). As a recent teetotaller, I have still felt a bit sheepish and even embarrassed when offered a drink but after reading this, I feel satisfied that after all these years of not enjoying alcohol I finally have a good reason. And that is no reason at all. I do not enjoy it, I do not need to do it, therefore I do not partake. Thank you as always


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