Last weekend when I was in Nashville, my dear friend Alexandra said she missed my Aunt Lindsay advice, and really admired the way I was living my life, so this blog post is dedicated to her! She’s a great friend and I miss being there to lend a listening ear when needed. I’m also proud to say this is my 50th post on the blog, which is quite a milestone to have stuck with it thus far!
Much to my surprise, I’ve become a woman who generally blazes her own trail, and I’ve been guided by a few key themes over the past few years:
Adventure – 9 times out of 10 (…or probably more like 99 out of 100) adventure won’t find you. You have to seek it out. If you want something in your life to happen, go out and make it happen. If you’re feeling dissatisfied because you’re feeling boring, do something that makes you feel adventurous. It doesn’t even have to be something grandiose, simply do something you’ve never tried before. Get out of your comfort zone. If something scares you it just might be the exact thing you must do. And remember it’s entirely acceptable from time to time to do something simply for the sake of having a great story to tell later, such as the time I let my friends take me to a shooting range 🙂
Present – as a student of many years, I’m still learning to embrace this principle because I am used to living my life with “what’s next” always spelled out and one semester away. I’m realizing in this phase of my life, focusing on the present is key. I am a planner by nature, and I still have my 5 year plan, but I keep my mind focused on where I am now and limit how much I worry about what’s next. Being happy is probably 75% choice, and I am choosing to enjoy my life exactly how it is now regardless of where I might prefer my life to be either now or a few years down the road.
Waiting – the best way for me to live a vibrant life is to avoid waiting for X to happen before I do Y. So many people think I’ll workout when the holidays are over, I’ll travel when I have a higher income, I’ll be happy once I get a new job, I’ll learn to cook once I have a boyfriend, I’ll go to more concerts once I make more friends who are into music. Nope. Don’t let the things you want to achieve be contingent on other things in your life happening! You might end up waiting a long while (on things you have limited control over!) and you’ll miss out on so much while you wait.
Completeness – I debated writing this one, but it kind of ties into not waiting and it’s something I’m passionate about. So many of my friends think they need to find their “other half.” I hate the thought of this, that for some reason you cannot be complete without another person. I truly believe that the right person will not complete you but will compliment you. Similar words…but drastically different meaning.
Sacrifice – this is the newest addition to my life mantra, but I realized a couple months ago sometimes you can’t get everything you want. Well the Rolling Stones actually taught me that a few years ago…but our culture tries to tell us we deserve to have everything we want without giving anything up or working tirelessly. Sacrifice is easier when we have a clear idea of what really matters in life, and therefore why we are sacrificing, which leads me to my next point…
Priorities – Working full time doesn’t leave me as much free time as I am used to, so a few months ago I actually sat down and made myself a list of the things I am passionate about, which helps guide me in deciding how to use my time! I went for more broad categories (eight of them) and it’s nice to remind myself of what matters to me from time to time, especially on those days I’m feeling too busy. Avoid spending time on things that either a) don’t matter to you or b) don’t make you happy…and onto my next point
Happiness – do things that make you happy. I know this might sound like an obvious one, but I regularly see people do things because they feel like it’s what they are supposed to do, as opposed to what they want to do. (Let me clarify sometimes I do things I don’t enjoy, such as cleaning my house or skipping dessert, but the outcome of those things makes me happy.) If you don’t like listening to NPR but you do it because you feel like it’s what you should do, stop. If demolishing a crowd of zombies on the playstation is what you want after a long day of work, do that. If singing along with the latest Disney movie brings you happiness, belt it out. Never be ashamed of anything that makes you happy and embrace it fully!
Progress – I always had this idea in my head that progress looks a lot like a straight line, sloping upwards consistently. Unfortunately progress is nothing like that; it’s much more gradual. Sometimes you take two steps forward and twenty five back. Sometimes it feels like you’ve backslid so much you’ll be lucky to even make it back to where you started. You have to remember life isn’t always forward progress and you can’t get discouraged when you backslide. Shake your fist at the sky, and then put your head down and start pushing forward again. Accept the fact that getting your life together will never be as easy at it seems, but it’s up to you to keep striving to make yourself better.
Sidenote: journaling is a great way to how far you’ve come. By being honest with yourself, you can read from the past and see that even though you’ve made mistakes, in the long term you are making progress and becoming who you’d like to be.