What’s Stopping You?

By: Jen Shoop

What came to mind when you read the title of today’s musing?

Something professional? Personal? Relationship-oriented? Creativity-related?

I’m interested in the subject of interrupted ambition because I have often found that I get in my own way — that I cast a long yet immaterial shadow over my own goals — and I am determined that other women avoid the same trap.

I can think of exactly one person who told me “you shouldn’t be doing this,” and even then, it was veiled as sarcasm. Strangely, I took her feedback as motivation. I went home, hurt and bent out of shape, a wounded, nest-bound bird, and told Mr. Magpie about it, and we both agreed that persistence would be my best redress. Her naysaying has in fact become my rallying cry. She was poking fun at me, looking archly at one of our companions, and I now repeat her exact words to myself when I need a good giddy-up. For what it’s worth, I have also spent time making peace with that woman (in my mind), reminding myself that people cope by projecting; that perhaps the work in reference wasn’t my best; that unkind words say more about the commenter than the subject; that I can only put something out in the world, not control its reception; etcetera. Still, I pin that moment of fleeting shame to my lapel, a reminder not to let others cloud my thinking, or deter my own ambition.

In every other instance in which I have hesitated to do something I wanted to do, though, I think I have hamstrung myself. (Obviously, after that “thing” has passed the usual battery of reasonable tests — is it affordable, does it track with my longterm goals, does it seem realistic?) I have agonized over what people have not said, or the way their life decisions do not map to mine, and invent their censure. I have dreamt up my own rules — something I do distressingly often! I can’t do x because someone else is doing it. I can’t write fiction because I’m not a trained fiction writer. Etc.

What I mean to ask (to myself, too): is something or someone really stopping you? Or is it the stuff of fear? Or ego? Or some other brackish sentiment that we’d be better off slicking out of our way?

Let’s forget the phantom hands at our ankles, dissolve the imagined gatekeepers, and put one foot on the pathway.

Onwards, Magpies —


+More encouragement if you’re at the start of something.

+To live is startling.

+On the quarterlife roam. (It’s OK if you’re in your 30s and still don’t feel like you’ve got it all figured out! Almost no one does.)


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Shopping Break.

+This brown and white striped oxford is in my cart. Perfection. Want to wear with everything — my ecru denim skirt, high-waisted chocolate-hued trousers.

+Speaking of brown: this reversible vest from J. Crew’s new arrivals is soooo good.

+Everyone’s favorite RMS Beauty radiance serum is on sale at QVC: two for $58!

+Did you get anything from HHH’s fall launch last yesterday? I’m sitting here trying to decide between this pajama “set” (can wear together with velvet heels, or separately with jeans/white blouse, etc!) and this pretty fall dress. (Wear now with ballet flats / mary janes, wear later with tights and booties!). Obsessed with the pattern.

+For an early fall special occasion: she’s perfect.

+Once the kids are back to school, I cannot wait to go through all of their clothes and toys to reorganize. Going to pick up a few sets of these and these (such a good deal) for the occasion!

+With fall around the corner, perfect time to zhush your front stoop. We love the cuir doormats from Frontgate. GREAT quality, classic style. Currently on sale!

+Have heard good things about these “clean” snack bars. The flavors sound so good!

+Ordering this body wash next.

+Fun hostess gift.

+Cute boys’ zippered anorak, on sale for $35 with code SHOPNOW.

+Dreaming of this patterned turtleneck with the matching skirt and these flats in the sienna color.

+Vintage-rug-inspired vinyl kitchen mat! So chic.

+This fleece is so fun for fall.

+Eyeing one of these trending vest-type tops for fall — love this and this.

+Cutest woven LED light lamp shades.

+CHIC jeans.

+A fabulous home decor boutique, Hammett, is running an incredible end of season sale. Great chance to buy housewarming/house guest/holiday gifts, or to treat yourself to something new. This Sabre flatware set is 50% off, and how spectacular are these scalloped linen napkins for a fall tablescape?

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6 thoughts on “What’s Stopping You?

  1. “Let’s forget the phantom hands at our ankles, dissolve the imagined gatekeepers, and put one foot on the pathway.” WOW!

  2. I think what’s stopping me is a belief that whatever I choose to do will be permanent (so I better make the right choice…no pressure!) This especially applies to my future job/career. I’ve been at home taking care of my daughters for 6 years but will need to go back to work when my youngest is in kindergarten. Despite having 6 years to think about it, I have yet to come up with any career options that sound good (I was in purchasing when I left and I know I don’t want to do that anymore). It feels like I’m squandering a great opportunity to start over, but in reality stay-at-home parenting does not leave a lot of space for navel gazing and research. Plus, I tend to feel like “ugh, that doesn’t sound like something I want to do until retirement” when coming up with ideas. Who says I can’t change jobs again? But I do know myself, and changing jobs is such a tedious process that I might just stay in a job I don’t like (see previous purchasing career!) in order to avoid it! Aaaah! At least the clock has not run out and I have a few more years to agonize 😉

    1. Hi Stephanie! I love this thoughtful response – clearly you have identified the core concern (permanence/being stuck!) and there are probably safe guards or at least ways to mitigate those fears. For example, there are arrangements where you can start as a contractor or part-time to see how you like the work (and, in my opinion, even crucially, the boss) and you can calendar midyear pull-ups for yourself to evaluate how much you are liking the work, etc. I also found it helpful in previous jobs to mentally commit to a set duration, e.g., “I’m going to give this a go for two years. If I hate it, I will switch.” But just setting an arbitrary timeline helped me feel better and also made me dwell on “should I / should I not” less. I’m sure other Magpies have other great suggestions along these lines…

      I relate though to this!! You got this!!


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