It’s Okay to Have Fun!

Not everything you do has to be for self-improvement

Written By: Catherine Porth

Catherine Porth | Founder of Let Her Speak

Let’s do a quick exercise. Pretend I just asked you for a book or podcast recommendation without any requirements – just that it be something you’ve enjoyed. What would you recommend to me? 

… I’ll give you a minute to think about it…

Was your first instinct to recommend something for personal or professional development? What about if I had asked for recommendations of something to do for fun? Could you come up with some ideas right away or are you struggling to even remember the last time you gave yourself permission to do something just for YOUR enjoyment?

The reason for all of these questions stems from a phenomenon I’ve observed over the years of being in spaces surrounded by driven, passionate women. As heart-filling as it is to hear women talking about their dreams and aspirations – I always sense an undertone of pressure to constantly be seeking out ways to make ourselves better. To be better employees, better managers, better businessowners, better mothers, better partners, and better friends.

While I’m all for growth and making ourselves better in the ways that are important to us – there is a point where this constant quest towards self-improvement becomes toxic. So… this is a reminder that it’s okay to lose yourself in a book that takes you to another world. It’s okay to listen to a podcast that makes you laugh or teaches you random facts you’ll never ever need to know.

It’s okay to just have fun!

Everyday is NOT an opportunity to improve yourself

It seems everywhere you look someone is trying to sell ways to improve ourselves. Whether it’s how we look, how we think, how we act, how we communicate, or the millions of other things that are apparently “wrong” with us – the world is constantly sending us messages that we are not enough as we are. Well I’m here to tell you that is complete BS.

Spending every day of your life in pursuit of growing is not only exhausting, it can start us down a dark path of never being happy or accepting of who we are. It also can take us away from being fully present and engaged in our lives. As you’re reading this right now, I don’t want you to start feeling shameful or a “failure” if you are someone who has a stack of personal or professional development books at home. The truth is – many of us have been pressured since we were kids to constantly be in pursuit of being better and doing better.

“Spending every day of your life in pursuit of growing is not only exhausting, it can start us down a dark path of never being happy or accepting of who we are.”

For almost every woman, a day came in our childhoods where we never played with our toys or put on dress-up clothes again. We stopped going on swings and riding down slides while screaming our heads off. We no longer had time to let our imaginations run wild as we stared up at the clouds. It was time to grow up. We had to prepare to be adults, caregivers, and partners. Who has the time for play and hobbies when we have to be the most perfect versions of ourselves all the time while taking care of everyone else and asking nothing in return?

And to make matters even more frustrating, the minute any of us picked up an interest that was deemed “for girls” – we were looked down on just for liking something that was feminine. Everything from romance novels to glitter to Taylor Swift to the Barbie movie. All used as indicators that we’re clearly not intelligent, sophisticated humans but rather are just “silly” women who haven’t grown up. So to stay safe, we keep our shelves stocked and our playlists filled with every piece of content that will help us grow the “right way” – never daring to openly share that we have other interests that serve no other purpose except to make us happy.

Breaking the cycle of constant improvement

I want to pause here and say again that there is absolutely NO SHAME in wanting to improve yourself. Rather this is a word of caution to be careful how far you’re pushing yourself, how you’re talking to yourself, and how you’re allowing yourself to feel joy. And perhaps most importantly, who you’re showing up as in spaces with other people.

During the pandemic we started hosting virtual workshops for women to help them feel connected and supported. At the end of one particular workshop, I asked all the attendees to provide some book recommendations we could share as a follow-up. I even explicitly asked for fiction book recommendations because I knew the majority of the books were likely going to be in the self-help genre. Despite openly giving permission to share a book that was meant just for fun, we didn’t receive a single recommendation aside from the book I mentioned (it was likely “The Power” by Naomi Alderman).

That experience opened my eyes to seeing this phenomenon happening around me constantly – even in my own friend group. As much as I love having conversations that go deep and help me know more about someone, I also love seeing someone light up when they’re talking about their brass figurine collection or a book series about a female serial killer (my esthetician just told me about this series and it was such a fun conversation).

Feeling like you have to talk about “adult” stuff in spaces where you’re needing to network and connect with others is accepted as the “normal” thing to do. But what if you asked someone to talk about the last time they laughed? Or played a game? Or got lost in a story? Just imagine the types of conversations and friendships that could stem from one person being brave enough to disrupt the status quo. As humans, we all want to be seen, heard, and valued. But if we think we’re among people who wouldn’t value our fascination with Lisa Frank artwork or antique typewriters – it’s likely we’ll continue in this cycle of feeling like we have to constantly be improving ourselves so we can talk about the last self-help book we read and the strides we’re making in personal growth.

So here’s my challenge to you – be brave and break the cycle. Go do something today that’s purely for your enjoyment. Start a conversation with someone you just met about something fun or silly. Make someone laugh with their whole body or remember something they hadn’t thought about since childhood. Try being okay just being who you are – flaws, weird interests, and all.

“I strongly believe that our greatest memories are made in the moments when we’re embracing the sensation of being human.”

Being okay with just being

Embracing and loving all we are and accepting that is enough is definitely easier said than done. Especially given all the programming and social pressures discussed above. The neverending messages that we have to keep moving, keep growing, keep expanding makes us feel like to stand still is the worst thing we could ever do for ourselves. Whenever I feel those messages grabbing too strong of a hold on me – I always recite the poem “A Girl Who Didn’t Stop” by Erin Hanson in my head. Especially the last stanza.

If you’re not familiar with the poem, it goes like this: 

A Girl Who Didn’t Stop

By Erin Hanson

Let me tell the tale
Of a girl who didn’t stop;
Who climbed on every mountain
Without a pause when on the top.

She’d dance in every blade of grass
Until each one was covered in dew;
The sun knew her by name
But the silver moon did, too.

For a fear had settled in her bones,
A fear of sitting still;
That if you’re not moving forward
It must mean you never will.

So in time, her dance got slower
And she looked at all she’d seen;
But found gaps inside the places
That she’d never fully been.

For she was a human doing,
Human moving, human seeing;
But she had really never taken the time
To be a human being

As you are living in pursuit of your purpose and passion – don’t forget what a gift it is to just be a part of this world. I strongly believe that our greatest memories are made in the moments when we’re embracing the sensation of being human. And often that involves having fun, laughing, and playing. If you’ve forgotten what it feels like to just be – I hope these words have inspired you to rediscover that simple joy. And if you need someone to talk about random historical facts or useless trivia with – I’m your gal.

About the author » Catherine Porth

Catherine Porth is the Founder & Chief Advocate of Let Her Speak. Her mission is to improve and grow opportunities for women, one inspiring story at a time. If you are interested in learning more about or getting involved in our community, contact her at

Instagram: /letherspeakusa

LinkedIn: /catherineporth

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