Live the Life You’ve Imagined

One of my favorite posts from the archive is about “The Supposed Tos.” I’ve actually talked with a few people about expanding on it in a bigger way, but for now… the blog seems like just as good a platform as any.
If you haven’t read the first post, here’s the Sparknotes version of it. I feel like there are a lot of things that we feel we are supposed to do, but they may be leading us away from our true path. Maybe you feel like you’re supposed to go to an expensive out-of-state school because it’s a “good” school. Maybe you feel like you’re supposed to be pre-med and follow in your dad’s footsteps. While I have been there and checked off quite a few “Supposed To” boxes over the years, I realized (thankfully!) that I wasn’t living the life that I wanted!
I was going down the path I was Supposed To go down, along with everyone else instead of figuring out who I was and what I wanted to do. Over time I’ve made choices that feel like they’re going against the grain, but it’s lead me further down a path that is so much more me. I feel like I’m heading in the right direction for me.
Going off this Supposed To idea, I’ve come to realize that there’s a huge element of creating your own life. Carving out your own path. Molding your own present and future. I wouldn’t wait… I would start now.
I’m the absolute FIRST person to admit that I am not perfect. Pretty far from it in fact! I try my best to not fall down this road of Supposed Tos, but sometimes I find myself in a crowded spot on a path that I realize isn’t what I actually want. That has been happening to me (like living in NYC among other things) lately and I’ve had to reevaluate a number of choices. I’m in the process of adjusting my own sails right now.
In a way, it’s terrifying. Choosing something you’re Supposed To is comfortable, even if it’s not necessarily something you want. It’s making the hard decision to go a different way that takes courage.
Not sure where to start? Close your eyes… and visualize yourself in your ideal world. Are you backpacking around the world? Living in the quaintest apartment in a bustling city with a sick fashion job? Or perhaps you’re a first grade teacher who’s writing a novel in her spare time. It’s YOUR life… what does it look like?
Now, I’d love to say that nothing is impossible, but there are (of course) limitations to a certain degree. Maybe to backpack around the world you have to work for three years saving up all your money to make it happen. You also have to be realistic to within your personal limitations; if you’re dream is to be on Broadway (…. like me) but don’t have the greatest voice (…. like me), you might have to go back to the drawing board.
I think Henry David Thoreau said it best: “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”

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alaina shea

What a great post. I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who could use the reminder to be yourself and live your life! (I am one of those people…)
Thanks, Carly!


As an only child who, at over 30, still falls into the "supposed to" way of thinking from time to time, reminders like this are so important. Choosing a life that is the one you want and not the product of someone else expectations takes courage, but will make you so much happier in the end. This quote is great to put right in the middle of an inspiration board. Thanks for the post Carly! Wish I had been so aware of this at your age!

Laura | Surf & Hydrangeas

Elsie Goycoolea

So beautiful!! I have always been a people pleaser so I always did what I as supposed to do. Over the past few years I am learning to really do what makes me feels much better. 🙂 Great post!


Love this entirely! I think feeling this way, and going towards what you want – no matter how absurd requires so much strength. Depending on those who surround you.. I know I endured so much verbal and emotional abuse and still need to fight and be assertive for my career path – because digital marketing is new and my parents don't understand it and worry about me. I find a lot of solace in talking to other bloggers, praying, and helping people around me. If you do beautiful, helpful things with your talents it's so comforting! Thank you for this.

Warm Regards,

Cville to DC

This is an absolutely fantastic, heartfelt post that resonates with any twenty-something who feels as if they need to check off a number of things before they hit the looming 30, or should advance their career by picking a duller, better-paid job that has advancement.

I find myself at a serious crossroads, too. And what helps me is to envision my happiness. Where would I be happy, safe and healthy? That helps me pick cities, friends and jobs when the options (blessed enough to have those) scrawl out in front of me in a tangled web.

Thanks for sharing 🙂



I think this can be applied to so many areas of life. It's easy to get caught up in The Supposed Tos of work, love, home, etc. but in the end, you have to do what makes you happy! I'm going to read your full post, because I want more 🙂

26 and Not Counting

Katherine Bradley

I love this, Carly! Do you think you could make phone/laptop backgrounds with the "simplify your life" quote? I love when you design desktops. Your blog has been a part of my "study breaks" throughout undergrad and now in grad school! Thanks for your insights, joy, and ideas. xo

Ashley Blum

Posts like these are why I Iove reading your blog! What you said totally resonates with me and with so many men and women out there. Thanks for continuing to inspire your readers while wearing a killer outfit in the process!!

Anne Louise Vieser

The original post was fantastic but I love that you brought this back up! It's such a good reminder (especially for a college student!) that the "supposed to's" evolve and that we have to consciously create the life we love:)

Ashley Barker

Such a heartfelt, inspirational post that made me think about some decisions I have recently made and planning on making about the future. I will always keep this "Supposed To" post in mind, as I am almost 20 and learning about myself everyday. Thanks for posts like this!


I love this quote, and I love what you've written here today. I completely agree with everything you said, but I think at the same time, Supposed To's can be scary as well. As someone with a rebel heart that always loved to explore what I'm NOT supposed to do, sometimes it can be humbling to realize that one or two "Supposed To's" are what I really want. Those can be scary too sometimes because they get stereotyped as cliche or as a well-trodden path that isn't seen as special as an untraveled road.

Jamie Hatcher

Great post! I have checked a lot of "Supposed To" boxes like going to a private high school and then the same college my parents went to that was only 20 minutes away from home. It wasn't until I met my fiancé that I realized I didn't have to stay in Seattle and grow in one career, as I had planned. He's in the military so we moved to Las Vegas and living outside of my comfort zone has taught me that thinking outside of the box is much more fun and rewarding 🙂 thank you so much for sharing this!


Susie Loos

Great post! Loved the point about limitations. This year I'm making my dream of living in London a reality. I've imagined myself living and studying in London and traveling the world for a long time, but I had to wait 5 years to make it happen. It
took a lot of determination and hard work but it was so worth it to finally be here!

Susie |

Anne Yoakam

Those who think we're "supposed to" drop dead aren't intimidating us from expensive schools! Spend it on clothes if you like, we're beautiful enough to imagine a life of books and brains!

Julia D.

Love this post. Loved the "Supposed To's" post, as well as Ashton's speech. I especially like that you talked about the limitations to "living your dreams." So much of that is rooted in privilege (financial and otherwise) to pursue that path in life. While some have been able to do incredible things to rise above it, it is important to not make this the ideal for everyone. I love that even though it is your personal mantra you made note of that.