We always talk about growth and change throughout our formative years, but what happens after you hit 25? Why does no one talk about growing past your early twenties? Are we expected to just give up our hopes and dreams in a “Welp. Guess this is who am I now.”?
No way, I just don’t buy that. The way I see it, it’s never too late. Its never too late to start learning, start growing, start achieving.
I’m sure you’ve heard that the only way to become fluent in a language is to immerse yourself in it, right? Well, I guess you could say I’m using the same theory to push myself into the person I’m ready to be. Sensing your own weaknesses and purposely putting yourself in situations where you know you’ll flail — or worse, fail — is ugly business.
It is so much damn easier to put yourself in situations where you know you’ll do great.
But is that better?
Back home in Jacksonville, we had a good system going; things were working. I had figured out how to eat clean and get fit — so long as everything was always in my control. It was nice to coast, to feel like I had life figured out, but then I started thinking…
Did I want to be someone who worked out at the same time, in the same place, with the same routine day in and day out? Did I want to be somebody who ate my safe organic food from the same grocer each and every day?
Did I think I could sustain this lifestyle and still think to myself: “Hell yeah! I’ve got life figured out.”
No, I decided. As comfortable as I was here, I knew it was time to choose a different road; it was time for a change.
Those of you reading this are most likely familiar with the story of how we got here, but I haven’t opened up about all of my choices….until now. I haven’t opened up about how I’m putting myself in situations that make me squirm. I’m using this time to call attention to all those little areas where I think I suck, and I am forcing myself to cope with my issues.
Before we go on, let’s pause for a moment and talk about you. One of my main goals with this site is to push you — each and every one of you reading this — outside of your comfort zone. I want to push you because I care about you, I used to be you, and deep down — I still am you.
I want you to realize exactly how exhilarating it is out here on the other side, but you may not trust me enough to believe me on that yet. You may think, sure it’s easy for you to move out of your comfort zone, but I could never do that. You may have a zillion reasons running through your head right now, but let’s not focus on those can’ts. From now on I want you thinking about what you can do. After reading this post I want you to believe that if I can push outside of my comfort zone then you can too.
Ok here we go, let’s bring out the spotlight.
Now is the time to:
Take Responsibility for What I Know
“Oh, well I never learned that.” What a sorry phrase! I’ve heard myself utter this too many times over the last year, but I doubt I’m alone on this one. Who cares if I wasn’t taught something in school, information has never been as readily available as it is right now. I’ve thrown myself into a situation where most people around me (Europeans, nonetheless) know American history and current politics more expansively than I do. Bahh this is embarrassing! After just the first three weeks, I’ve begun Spanish courses on a free app; I’ve read daily emails from The Skimm covering US political events; I’ve brushed up on my history of architecture — Renaissance, Gothic, Mudéjar, Baroque; and I’ve had my mind completely blown by the Artificial Intelligence Revolution.
On the way from Porto to Lisbon, we hitched a ride using BlaBlaCar. Our driver knew so much more about our government than we did it was embarrassing. Granted, he worked for Portugal’s parliament, it still should be no excuse that I sat there mouth breathing instead of knowing simple things like how many members are in the House of Representatives.
Now I can say things like, “See that Mudéjar edifice over there, ¿Cuándo cree que fue construido?”
And people would be impressed. 🙃
Quit Being Boring
Think about the last time you met someone really, really interesting. What comes to mind? Is it how they know the daily lives of the Kardashians, can bench press 260 lbs, or how they raged so hard last night, bro?
I’m guessing not.
No, the people you find the most captivating aren’t the ones with perfect hair, the most followers on social media, or the ones reliving the glory days — they’re the ones with interests.
The photographer with her own artistic view of society, the rock climber who’s scaled mountains all over the world, the guy who’s traveled to far flung regions of the planet just ’cause…those are the people you want to talk to.
Go out and push yourself into something new. Blush, be embarrassed, fumble stuff and drop shit. Go out and be the worst at something until you’re the best.
Talk to Strangers
As one of my favorite sites puts it, trying to meet new friends between the ages of 25 and 30 is the friendship equivalent of a kid going through his awkward pubescent stage, and thank god for reading that because I’ve been thinking I was alone in my adult friend crisis.
Live life According to the (Un)Planned
Planning, listing, tasking — these words all sound like a good way to get your shit together, but really these are the kinds of things that keep you from living. I am an expert at devising and following a strict schedule, but ask me to throw it to the wind and just go with the flow?
Things will get sticky.
Throwing myself into an “I don’t know which city I’m sleeping in tomorrow” situation forces me to chill the hell out about all the small things in life. I’m out here teaching myself how to live life based on my priorities instead of a schedule.
My new approach? Fuck it. Let’s see what happens.
In Sevilla we decided to count our losses and show up unannounced to this hostel after plans fell through with our Airbnb. Semana Santa was approaching and places were booking rapidly. We didn’t have a bed to sleep in that night or a clue what this place was like, but it ended up being the best decision we could have made! In fact, it’s the top rated hostel in Spain!
Know That it isn’t What is Happening, but Rather How you React That’s Important
If something goes bad, look for the silver lining — it’s nearly always there. And if you really can’t find anything positive about your situation, well…I’m guessing you now have a damn good story to tell at parties.
We don’t speak Portuguese. She doesn’t speak English. No way this could turn out badly…
Stop Wondering if I Made the Right Choice
Like wow, right?
Seriously, from what drink to order to which bus to take, this is my mind’s routine for every little decision. And you’re right, it is exhausting.
Realize The “Right Choice” is Boring
Think back on the best stories from your life. Is there a single one of you out there thinking about the time that everything was perfect and went according to the plan?
Branch out and try something new, something you aren’t sure you’re going to like. Worst case scenario, you do something semi-shitty (like the time we visited that hilltop cliff in Nazaré during a winter vortex), but even then you can always find a way to enjoy yourself and still have a good time.
So, have I convinced you to toe the line??