My friends might laugh when they read this. I’m the ultimate “not cool girl.” I’m great at making awkward situations even more uncomfortable, and I take every decision I ever make way too seriously. Things like leaving the house on time (even though I’m always late) and not sleeping enough stress me out. In college I always bailed out of Saturday night shenanigans because I die if I drink two nights in a row, and I made myself a five-year plan at the very impressionable age of 16. You can only imagine how much of that has come true.
Among all my self-deprecation, I’d like to go ahead and point out that I’m a lot of good things too: funny when I don’t try to be, ambitious, and a fiercely loyal friend. At one point in my life I thought I had it all figured out. Actually, there have been many times when I thought, “This is it! This is what I want to do.” I went to college with a dream of majoring in liberal arts. I would be a painter, photographer or a graphic designer; the kind that makes money. Then I realized that kind is really hard to come by, so I changed routes.
I started to think I’d climb the corporate latter in the marketing world, scaling up and up until I met a guy I was fond enough to marry. Together we would be bringing in a six-figure salary. I’d go to business school and write a book about how to be successful. Not only is it humorous that this ridiculous scenario factors in the type of man that I probably have no interest in meeting, but I lasted a full two years in sales and made less money than I’m making now because it just wasn’t for me.
The more I dream up these life concoctions for myself, the more I realize that they’re an immense waste of my time. This year I’ve made a promise to myself to let loose, pull the proverbial stick out of my ass, and just let life happen. I still have goals, that will never change, but these things have helped me start to appreciate all the things I have going for me right now.
Start meditating, even if you’re scared or indifferent about the idea
Let me start off by saying that I’m no expert. In fact, I’m not even sure if I’m doing it right… but it feels like I can shut my brain off in a way that I can’t seem to find through any other means when I meditate. I’ve been doing it for mere minutes at a time, and I feel myself already growing. Try googling “guided meditation” and you might come up with a result you like, such as this one, to help you along the way.
Sit at a café or anywhere that inspires you
I started doing this recently after the boyfriend came to visit for a few weeks in December. He was quite vocal about the fact that I have a ton of super cute coffee shops in my neighborhood, and I never take the time to appreciate them. Today, I sit and write this to you from Branch Café as I sip on a banana shake. It’s nice to people watch, but it’s extra nice to just have a place to work that’s creatively inspiring. In this moment, I am happy. I’m not dreaming of where else I could be. This is the ultimate satisfaction, and will definitely help be happy with your life right now.
Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo
Wake up early, or at least early-ish
I won’t lie; this one hasn’t been implemented as often as I’d like it to be. My wakeup call is already pretty early in the morning, but it’s getting easier as the sun starts to rise earlier with the end of winter approaching (or so I keep telling myself). On days that I do manage it, though, I’m so much more content in everything I do. This is, in part, due to vanity because I have way more time to beautify myself, despite having a very limited wardrobe during my year abroad.
Spend time alone and don’t feel bad about it
I am the first to suffer from FOMO (for those of you non-members of the un-cool kids club, that’s fear of missing out). I’ve been spending oodles of alone time recently because all my friends in Korea are off on vacation in tropical, beautiful places. Instead of being jealous (which I totally still kind of am), I’m taking advantage of the lack of distractions and doing things I like to do. It was lonely at first, but now I’ve discovered new restaurants in my area, and even started small talk with some of the locals who own business near me. With all this extra time on my hands, I’ve also gotten way more work done than I normally do. I plan on keeping it up at least a few times a week, even after my long-awaited companions come back to me.
Image credit: Death to the Stock Photo
Focus on your passions
Work is cool and all since, you know, you have to pay the bills. If it’s not fulfilling for you, though, start focusing more attention on some of the things that are. Maybe it’s something you set aside or forget to prioritize because it’s just a hobby, or seems to serve no purpose, like knitting or baking. Whatever you love to do, that’s what you should be making the most time fore, especially on those nights when you decide to forgo the FOMO ;). Who knows, it might turn into something bigger in the long run and you’ll feel silly for discrediting it compared to your boring old desk job. Unless you love your desk job, which is awesome because that means you might already be happy with your life, in which case pretend I didn’t write that last sentence.
Move to a new country, perhaps as an ESL teacher!
You didn’t think I’d leave this out of the list, did you? There’s a reason I’m here, and as much as I enjoy the days I get to teach and the possibility of making a difference in a young persons life, it’s not because I’m immensely passionate about teaching. Being in Korea has taught me more than I could have anticipated. I’m saving money, figuring out my next step, and getting to know tons of incredibly smart and talented individuals. Above all, I’ve immersed myself in a society that’s so different from my own, overcome hardships due to culture shock, and grown leaps and bounds in my appreciation for what’s important to me in life. Above all, I know now what those “important” things are.