my life just feels really small, i thought. i mean, understandably so, i had just gotten back from a vacation of a lifetime -one with marsupials and dinners out and new cities to explore every few days. anything would pale in comparison. on any other given day, i would have welcomed my “you can set a watch by my schedule” routine, but somehow juxtaposing my “real life” existence to my “vacation” version only heightened how vanilla my everyday had become. and the more i dwelled on how un-australia my normal routine was, the more i wanted to escape it.
but then i remembered a quote i had used in an upcoming article i composed for darling online. truthfully, i had found it on pinterest last fall -well before i had even left for my trip, and while it had resonated then, it had so much more impact now being on the other side of vacation.
“Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
instead of chasing my next adventure, perhaps i could incorporate a little adventure into my everyday.
but adventure as i defined it. which meant starting small. incorporating a new restaurant in my regular rotation (honey’s, urban plates, tin leaf, rimel’s, edamame, whole foods, wash, rinse, repeat), planning a long-weekend away at my aunt’s beach house up north, or yes, even as simple as opting to sit on the opposite side of the sanctuary at church to expose me to a whole new section of people (cough, boys) to meet during the designated “turn around and say hello to someone nearby” time. if i made a conscious effort to actually follow-up with all of the open invitations i had received from a new acquaintance here or a rekindled high school friend there, i could open myself up to a whole new slew of opportunities. my own little mini adventures.
but the first step started with me.
i had to be willing to put myself out there. just like i had been more than willing to on january 16th when i boarded that plane to australia. being adventurous in my normal life didn’t require a passport or a suitcase full of summer clothes, it just required a little bravery and a healthy shove outside of my comfort zone.
a few weeks back while catching up with an old friend who now resides on the east coast (hi R!), i confessed my new-found desire to build a so-called “bigger” life. “what that entails, exactly, i don’t know.” i explained to him as he offered a listening ear. “i just know that means taking more risks. australia itself was a fairly risky move, i’d like to think i could keep the momentum going, just maybe on a smaller scale.” he agreed. in fact, he did more than just agree, he took it on as his friendly responsibility to keep me accountable for my not-so-new-year’s resolution. maybe that’s the scary part of letting your friends in on your newest ambitions, they are usually the ones to keep you accountable for them. and right on cue, R has certainly kept me accountable, checking in periodically to see if i have “gone on any adventures lately?”
the past two times he has inquired, i have immediately tried to sidestep the question altogether. “err, uhh, sort of?” truth is, i haven’t done anything out of the ordinary lately. and i was kind embarrassed about it. but instead of using his questioning as a tool to kick-start me into pursuing the adventurous again, i immediately felt convicted. as if somehow i had let him down. but his perceived disappointment was a farce; a projection of my own insecurity in making another lofty declaration and falling short once again.
there was no timeline as to when my life would suddenly transform from being vanilla to jamocha almond fudge (or whatever flavor you find exotic, but honestly, what’s more exotic than the word “jamocha?”). adding adventure into my every day would be a continual, conscious process. some seasons would warrant more excitement, others not so much. just because i hadn’t cut all my hair off (first of all, that’s never happening), joined a new bible study, and decided to chase a new career venture all in the last three weeks didn’t mean i had already failed in my newest resolution. it just meant i hadn’t found something i was willing to make myself vulnerable for yet. so instead of worrying if whether or not my life was appearing more “adventurous” to R or to anyone else for that matter, i instead began praying for opportunities. opportunity doors, windows, or heck, even peep holes that might lead me me to new experiences and new people. new adventures i could incorporate into my day to day. and maybe more importantly, i prayed for the courage to walk through said open vehicles, being confident enough in my own efforts to thrive in any given uncharted situation.
i thought back to a post i wrote in august of last year, on the heels of accepting M’s initial invitation to visit him in australia. it was entitled “the power of yes.” despite having written it over six months ago, i feel as though i’m still digesting its sentiments every day.
i suppose what it boils down to is learning to say yes more than i say no. i mean, for a while i had a hard time saying no, and now i feel like the spectrum has shifted entirely. anyway, i think i’ve clung to the “no’s” because there’s less risk there. no disappointment or let down. if you never even start, then it never has to end badly. but a life full of no is not a life worth living. it lacks possibility. possibility of great things that lie behind its open doors and cracked windows and down its paved paths. i’ve learned that saying yes to someone or something doesn’t make you weak. it isn’t the same as giving into temptation or losing self-control. i mean sometimes it is, given the situation. but really, saying yes more than you say no has the power to change your outlook entirely. i’ve learned that people wouldn’t offer things if they truly didn’t expect you to say yes in response. i mean, they may kind of think that when they offer you the last cupcake or donut, but they’re definitely not inviting you to tag along out of pity (at least i hope not). they’re doing it intentionally. they want you there. your presence would only serve to make the evening or outing or dinner or situation more enjoyable. there aren’t any strings attached. sometimes an open invitation is just that. an open invitation. and by saying yes, you’re setting yourself up to experience a whole world of delicious unknown. the kind that is scary, sure, but in a good way. because sometimes scary can be good.
in accordance to my re-surged desire for the unknown, i accepted a last-minute invitation to a backyard BBQ on saturday evening from a recent acquaintance turned friend. aside from our brief (but awesome) interactions, i had no foreknowledge of the other invitees. for most who know me, you know how big it was for me to accept said invitation. in fact, it required not one but two subsequent pep talks (shout out to BL and jerns) and a really cute outfit to give me the courage to ensure that my booty did in fact make it the house that evening. but all fears subsided when i walked into the door and was immediately greeted with the warmest, kindest, and overall funnest group of individuals i have come into contact in a long while. i proceeded to share stories and laughs and awkward moments for well past my habitual nightly bedtime. and i left feeling full.
it might not seem scary to you exchanging your regular saturday night plans of sweatpants and SNL for one of an old-fashioned communal hang out over carne asade, guacamole, and good conversation, but for me, it was. if there was such a thing as the antithesis of fomo (fear of missing out), i would happily diagnose myself with it. so the very fact that i stepped out of my comfort zone and managed to have a truly wonderful saturday night is saying a lot.
but what saturday mostly affirmed is how much i’ve grown in embracing the unknown. which i can only further attribute to what has become a greater understanding and true acceptance of and in myself. because when you like you, you’re not so crippled by the fear that others won’t. if experience has taught me anything it’s that the more you offer up your true transparent self, the more others will naturally gravitate toward and celebrate just that.
so this is all a very round about way of telling you that i’m putting my best foot forward in capturing a life that is more than just routined visits to trader joe’s and predictable bedtimes. i’m doing my best to take advantage of the invitations that come my way -invitations that may require a bit of bravery and spontaneity and for me to be a less reclusive version of myself. i’m consciously creating an existence that is just one step beyond my comfort zone. whether that means attending BBQ’s where i know hardly a soul, or sitting on the right side of church in hopes of meeting a new friend.