“We’d all be better off if we did away with the word ‘should’ altogether” with Rosie Bell and Fotis Georgiadis

Fotis Georgiadis
Sep 16 · 12 min read

It is also my personal belief that we’d all be better off if we did away with the word ‘should’ altogether. This single word is ever so confining, further serving to program us towards prescribed behaviors and ideologies. Also, if everyone could just tolerate each other’s motives, wants and needs, that would be a great start.

As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Rosie Bell, a travel writer, editor and author of ‘Escape to Self’. Her notes on wanderlust, writing and wild optimism have been found on Forbes Travel Guide and World Nomads. She is also the founder of ClubElsewhere.com, a digital magazine for story-led travel guides. Her portfolio lives at RosieBell.net.


Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.

I am near-evangelical about travel and writing. For as long as I knew jobs existed, I yearned to be a writer. Growing up, however, I was told writing wasn’t a ‘real job’ because you couldn’t be ‘CEO of words’ or VP of writing. It would be much more worthwhile to take on a real profession with delineated ranks and riches. So, I did what I was ‘supposed to’ do and pursued a creative yet stable career in advertising — which nearly killed me. I’ve had to reinvent myself a couple of times, but ultimately, my disappointments and failures brought me right back where I belong. As a travel writer, these days I combine both of my passions working with clients as diverse as my destinations.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?

My first book, ‘Escape to Self‘, is a personal freedom manifesto and a prime read for anyone longing to define their own life, doing away with traditional roles and what we ‘should’ be striving for. My next literary offering will be the self-discovery novel I’m writing about the journeys we plan, and the ones life forces us on. Club Elsewhere will also be publishing travel guides fuelled by personal stories in order to inspire and connect people through exposure to tales of the human experience.

Alongside these projects, I’m rolling out a series of online courses following the success of a life design and personal freedom workshop I held in Germany last year. Some participants reached out and expressed an appetite for the program to be extended somehow. They informed me that the very direct, self-reflective questions posed during the workshop initially brought them immense discomfort but ultimately, a better understanding of the things that make them tick. You could say I’ve got my finger in quite a few pies.

Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self acceptance?

Like many, my twenties were a tumultuous period categorized by confusion, anxiety and failure — the latter being one of my toughest teachers to date. I worked myself to the bone doing what I ‘should’ be doing and chasing success. The long hours and pressure cooker environment of my employer got to me and I was miserable. I judged myself and called myself a failure for lacking the same level of ambition as my peers (proof that comparison gets us nowhere). The depth of my disenchantment eventually presented itself in the form of health problems. Without a new job to go to or the faintest clue what to do next with my life, I quit. People told me I was crazy to leave my cushy position, and I judged myself even more.

Failure is a particularly stern teacher because it offers extra credit in self-doubt and disappointment; lessons you surely never asked for. It’s sophisticated in its punishing effect on one’s self-esteem. Through failure, I would learn that I was living according to standards of success that weren’t mine. I am now succeeding by my own principles when my life consists of travel, connection, discovery and freedom, none of which my previous work enabled or encouraged. It matters not one bit that I operate in a different time zone to those around me. I’ve stopped giving myself a hard time because I needed to have that experience to know. Part of accepting ourselves is forgiving our mistakes — real or perceived.

According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?

The world is full of people who are uncomfortable in their own skin. Let’s face it; we live in a society that encourages perfectionism and comparison, which basically robs us of happiness like a thief in the night. It’s a duplicitous two-sided coin: you come up smelling of roses or feeling like dung depending on your position on the leader board. When we compare our looks/ homes/ jobs/ whatever the heck else to others, we create a mental scale of how good or bad we are in relation to them. Social Media networks are the most prolific comparison stations of our time. It’s right there in our hands for us to gawk at, all the people who appear to be better/ wealthier/ more alluring than we deem ourselves to be. Comparison doesn’t only serve to cause hyper-awareness of where we fall short; it also feeds envy, which is basically the least useful emotion in existence. It’s remarkably easy to question our bodies and our entire selves when we benchmark them against other people.

As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?

Self-love is the stuff that stitches joy into the seams. All of our neuroses have their root in the lack of self-love. An entire chapter of my book ‘Escape to Self’ is dedicated to it because it’s at the cornerstone of treating ourselves well and honouring ourselves. Self-love in Spanish is auto-amor, signalling that it’s an automatic and instinctive attitude.

Loving ourselves means accepting our emotions, which in turn grants us the freedom to be who and how we choose. Loving ourselves means accepting our individuality, which, in turn, helps us accept that we have our own very personal criteria to live by. This negates benchmarking against external targets of other people’s making. Loving ourselves means we don’t use extrinsic mirrors to reflect our innermost desires, an inherently flawed approach that leaves us longing to belong to things we don’t really belong to. Crucially, loving ourselves means we don’t worship at the altar of perfectionism, a hostile ruler that will never reward our efforts.

Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?

When we lack self-love, we detain ourselves in lacklustre routines, stultifying relationships and limit ourselves to what others will ‘allow’ us. We can’t settle for less than we deserve when we love ourselves unconditionally. People also stay in unfulfilling relationships due to a reluctance to start all over. The fear of the unknown is a contributing factor too, but you can meet somebody tomorrow who has better intentions for you than someone you’ve known forever. Time means nothing where relationships are concerned.

Removing toxic people and relationships from our repertoires can be a huge stepping-stone to securing our wellbeing. Sometimes it’s bitterly necessary to realize that certain people take much more from us than they give. You are eternally granted free rein to limit contact with any individuals who deplete your goodwill. It’s comforting to know that the people you are looking for are also looking for you.

When we talk about self-love and understanding we don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?

I had never thought about what success meant to me or given much thought to what I truly needed from my time on earth. It was only when heartache from being the wrong place and profession spilled over into my personal life that I was compelled to seek answers.

Accepting yourself requires knowing who ‘yourself’ is and loving that person in spite of and because of all of that. Start by asking yourself if you believe it is an honour to know and be you. Can you say, ‘It’s a privilege and a pleasure to know me’ without discomfort?

It’s worth noting that self-love isn’t arrogance. It’s not thinking we’re better or worse than anyone else. Rather, it means listening to our heart’s intellect which tells us we’re lovable no matter what. Self-acceptance is a celebration of our flaws and our fortitude.

What’s your relation with self-love? Who are you? Do you like yourself? What are your values? What’s the central theme of your attitudes? What does living ‘a good life’ mean to you? These are some of the questions posed in my online learning program, ‘Writing Your Personal Manifesto: The Questions We Never Ask Ourselves’.

Your relationships, the time you spend alone, the stories you tell, the ideas you have about yourself, your successes and your failures are all compass points with rich information to navigate you along your path. You can learn from the varying facets of your life.

So many don’t really know how to be alone, or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?

Spending time alone is a form of self-care to improve the most important relationship in your life — the one you have with yourself. Some may think of spending time alone as boring but this is the time for those great books. This is the time for stolen moments with golden music. This is the time for sunset gazing. This is the time for a self-odyssey. You can share moments with yourself.

When we’re on our own is when we engage in our best self-reflective practices: writing in a diary, listing, or meditation. Being able to withstand just your own company means you won’t be desperate for anybody else’s. When you’re happy on your own, you’ll wait for the right people and be selective about whom you let infringe on your precious alone time.

How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?

The condition of the relationship you have with yourself governs all other relationships in your life. Your ability to love and accept yourself impacts how much you let others love you. You aren’t intimidated by excess love because you believe you deserve it. When you create success and happiness for yourself, you create this for others too by being your optimum self.

Self-love also means you trust yourself. You waste less energy doubting and questioning things, time that could be spent enjoying your days and the company of others. Accepting ourselves also means accepting others for who they are, which can only be a good thing in any relationship.

In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?

The first step towards getting what you desire is knowing what you desire. People can go years without even recognising that they’re unhappy or without actually knowing what they need in their lives. I can’t emphasize the importance of engaging in self-reflective practices enough. Asking yourself questions about who and what you are is how to take the temperature of your portfolio. Before you go on a spending spree it makes sense to check what you’ve got in the bank, right?

It is also my personal belief that we’d all be better off if we did away with the word ‘should’ altogether. This single word is ever so confining, further serving to program us towards prescribed behaviors and ideologies. Also, if everyone could just tolerate each other’s motives, wants and needs, that would be a great start.

What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself, that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?

1. I have always kept a list of all the things in my life that I am grateful for. I look back and review it at the end of every year and simply smile.

2. Spending time in places that make me feel alive is rejuvenating. To write my book, I decamped to Panama, which I have long enjoyed a love affair with. Travel is one of my greatest remedies and source of inspiration. Nothing has shown me how much and how little I know as travel has. Different locations have acted as different tutors, imbibing me with potent lessons that I am forever marked by.

3. Despite being quite a social person (ESFP), I endeavour to steal as many moments alone as I possibly can. An occupational hazard of writing is that it’s rather solitary in nature, however, I’ve come to a point where I genuinely relish moments with just myself for company.

4. The word ‘should’ is being slowly eradicated from my vocabulary. As adults with free will, there is great comfort to be found in the fact that there is nothing we ‘should’ or ‘have to’ do.

5. A bit of self-compassion goes a long way. Failure, doubt, heartbreak or inadequacy are not unique to me or you. Let’s cut ourselves some slack.

What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?

The two books which really kicked off my own journey of self-discovery were ‘Loveability’ by Robert Holden and ‘Seven Sins for a Life Worth Living’ by Roger Housden. Both are delicious, uplifting reads. Housden woke me up to the fact that withholding the things we desire from ourselves will only come back to bite us in the ass, and that unrealized goals and unfulfilled wishes eat away at our self-esteem, swirling endlessly in the lungs until realized and released. Both books greatly contributed to my own life philosophy which is to make life happen for me and not to me, enjoy my days and fill them with my every desire and to be an instigator of positive warmth in the world.

I often bring Psychologies Magazine with me when I travel too as well a copy of my book ‘Escape to Self’ to give to someone whose heart could benefit from it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…

I wish we’d all just have more fun. Our worlds can be altered dramatically by keeping in mind that the very purpose of life is to enjoy it. From the moment you get up, till the second you lay your head for slumber, you can add fun elements to every 24 hours. As you strut down the street, imagine you’re starring in a movie — choose a film from any genre you like. Pull a silly face unexpectedly when a friend’s speaking to you. Wear your roommate or partner’s clothes and wait to see their reaction. Just play.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?

‘Seven Sins for a Life Worth Living’ by Roger Housden presents a particularly interesting perspective on leisure and travel as a fundamental necessity for pretty much everyone. He specifies that ‘when you die, God and the angels will hold you accountable for all the pleasures you were allowed in life that you denied yourself’. Well, I surely wouldn’t want that, would I?

Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Fotis Georgiadis

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Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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