You’re allowed to change (and people who love you will let you)

I know you know this, but you’re allowed to change and if people love you, they’ll let you. You don't owe anyone your pretty or your ambition or your intrigue. You're allowed to live a life that works for you. >> yesandyes.orgWhen my friend Amy* was in her twenties, she was competition-level Maneater. If you could medal in OkCupid and making out with dudes in bar bathrooms, she would have made it to the podium.

Every time we’d meet for drinks or dinner, we’d all wait with baited breath to hear about her latest hijinks – how were things going with The Handsome Dumb Dentist? Was she going to see Shy Professor again? On some level, those of us who were partnered up (or less romantically aggressive) were living vicariously through her dating and smooching choices.

About a year ago, Amy found her Person – she’s so happy and we’re so happy for her! That being said, I’ve heard more than a few joking/not joking mumbles of “She’s not nearly as fun now” and “If Amy partnered up and boringed out, what hope is there for the rest of us?”

Amy does not owe us a fascinating, frequently changing, hilarious personal life.

Maybe you’ve been wearing Pinterest-worthy outfits for the last ten years, topped with carefully styled hair and a flawless cat eye. But your life is changing – because you moved, got a new job, had a kid – and you’re turning into a jeans/t-shirt/chapstick kind of lady.

You do not owe anyone your pretty.

You’re allowed to look and dress and style yourself in a way that works for the life you’re living right now.

You’ve been clawing your way up the corporate ladder for years. You head All The Committees, you have the corner office, the assistant, the shoes that clickity clack importantly when you walk down the hall. And allofasudden, you’re over it. You bail on the six figure salary to reassess and retrain.

You do not owe anyone your ambition.

You don’t need to exist for anyone else’s professional inspiration.

You’ve lived in 15 cities in the last 12 years. You’ve switched careers three times (photographer > graphic designer > entrepreneur) and dated people who have adjectives for names.

You’ve ridden your share of elephants and camels and your life looks amazing on Instagram. All you really want is a two-bedroom house in the suburbs near your parents, a steady paycheck, and to stop assessing life through your phone.

You do not owe anyone your intrigue.

You don’t have to keep living a life you’re finished with just because it looks good on the internet.

I know you know this, but you’re allowed to change and if people love you, they’ll let you. Share on X

We all want to be (and have) supportive friends. When someone’s life changes and it’s no longer a source of ‘entertainment’ or ‘inspiration’ it’s probably because they’d rather be the person we see in front of us now.


Have you ever struggled with this – either evolving out of the life that people expect you to lead or having a friend dramatically change? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments.

*Not her real name because I want my friends to keep talking to me

P.S. If you want 1-on-1 support, accountability, and advice making a big life change, I can help with that!

Photo by Warren Wong on Unsplash

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  1. Courtney

    Wonderful. Amazing. Perfect. Love it! I’ve obviously been thinking about this a lot lately and it’s not a topic I’ve seen discussed much online — “You’re allowed to be boring! You don’t have to inspire everyone!” THANK YOU 🙂

  2. Bekah

    I had to come out of lurker status to comment on this post. This is so amazing. Something else I’ve been thinking about is that I do not owe anyone in my family to be the person they expect me to be. For me this is related to no longer following the religious path my immediate family follows. Finding my own way has been like breaking free, but also so stressful due to the pressure and comments from my parents. I have been discussing this with my therapist…that I don’t have to do what they want me to do, I don’t have to believe what they want me to believe, and I don’t have to internalize the comments they make. That’s the best part about being an individual. I can be myself and not worry about what anyone else thinks. It’s not for anyone else. Your path is for you. This post was perfect.

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Thank you so much for de-lurking and for your thoughtful comment. Becoming who we are can feel like a fulltime job – I’m so proud of you for doing that hard work. Keep at it! <3

  3. Emma

    Oh wow!
    I have to admit this is a little bit me right now. I am trying to decide what I want from life, who I am and who I want to be and it’s pretty hard. I have lost friends over the years as I have changed but I have true friends who have stuck by me no matter what choices I have made and I love them to bits. I hope that I can be a friend who wants my friends to be happy and supports them in all the choices they make.
    I hope I find my path soon, and I hope I can stay safe in the knowledge that I am the only one that needs to walk it. But if awesome people want to walk parts alongside me then they are so welcome. x

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Best of luck on the journey, Emma! I’m sure you’ll meet lots of wonderful people on the way!

  4. Laura

    This made me cry and was exactly what I needed to read right now. After years and years of wearing fancy dress up clothes and red lipstick and beauty blogging (Dita Von Teese and Daphne Guinness were my style icons), my life has evolved past that. But it’s WEIRD and uncomfortable for me not to have such a defined style aesthetic. I feel kind of sartorially lost right now, but this post just reminded me that IT’S OKAY. Thanks Sarah, you’re the best 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      <3 <3 <3

  5. Jess

    This is something I really needed someone else to affirm. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for a while and I think it applies to so many things. I’m long distance pseudo-dating a guy right now with a carefree, well-off lifestyle while my summer consists of working two jobs and living at home, getting ready for school in the fall. I don’t have the social life he has or the “fun” (I say that in quotes because my fun isn’t the same all the time). And sometimes I feel like I should somehow force myself to be more interesting, or intriguing, or more social, just so that I can be someone for him. And I’m realizing that I have my life, and it’s something to be proud of, and I don’t have to be something for someone else. So thanks for writing 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      You really, really don’t have to be something for someone else! <3

  6. Lisa

    We are more than our crazy stories or whatever else we decide to put out there. Thanks for this reminder.

  7. Barbara

    Yes! I love this post! I know I’ve been afraid to change because of what people would think. I realized that the important people in my life didn’t care if I changed things up.

  8. Abby Flynn

    Hey Sarah, this is my first time to your blog and I LOVE what you have to say.
    The whole way through I’m like YES YES YES. I’ve been working at a company for the last 5 years that I don’t necessarily love working at. But it’s “cool” to tell people I work in music, and in some ways that has kept me there.
    I finally got the courage to put in my notice and figure out what I actually want out of life, but there’s a lot of people who don’t understand why I’m doing it. It’s great to know I’m not alone, and I don’t owe anyone an explanation for why I need to do what I need to do. 🙂

    • Sarah Von Bargen

      Internet high five, Abby!

  9. yoli

    THANK YOU. Like other commenters I’m in the middle of a life transition. I am studying for the GMATs without target schools (yet!) and just messily ended a relationship. I’ve been hearing that people “don’t know who I am” since I was previously so anti-grad school, and that he was more “boring than your usual.”

    Thank you for this 100% timely reminder that I’ve gone through crazy amounts of growth. I walked out of that relationship feeling like I’d “lost myself.” But the truth was that in that relationship I was growing in ways I didn’t even realize. Of course I couldn’t find the old me! And, as much as my friends will have to get used to the “new” me, I need to as well.

  10. Court

    This popped up again today and reminded me it’s okay not to be the person I was 5 years ago and to walk away from things that don’t fit anymore. Thank you.

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