Every now and then, we forget.
We play, we study, we graduate into maturity, and then we choose to settle. We tell ourselves that we’re not as fortunate as others to be able to let ourselves go and live a little because of what we have in our hands – a job, a family, etc. We start to believe in those lies we tell ourselves.
I don’t have time. I can’t take time off from work. I have to find a career job in this point in my life. It’s not a good time in my life to go. I have kids to take care of and taking them with me would cost me a fortune. It’s too complicated. I have no money.
These are just a few of the lies we tell ourselves. The lies we start to believe in so much that we lose sight of any possibility of living a little.
I was all those lies. For several years, I kept giving myself excuses as a means to make me feel better about not being able to live like others were. I wasn’t living, per se. And although I felt ashamed about it then, I don’t today because I’m able to write this for you now, knowing what it’s like on the other side; knowing what I had been missing out on all those years.
That thing you call life. Most people are so desperate to find a meaning in their life. From what I’ve learned and been at peace with the thought of, is that we give our life a meaning. We are not given a purpose for living. Our sole purpose is to live, biologically and anthropologically speaking. To have meaning in it, is all up to you. It’s all in your hands to create a story out of your life; not in the hands of others or other external factors. If your life isn’t colourful enough, don’t blame it on the circumstances that brought you where you are. You have the power and the control to change your narrative. Your life is yours, and yours alone. You want to jump out of a plane and feel the adrenaline rush? Do it. You want to quit your job so you can become a full-time writer? Do it. Is it going to make you poor for a good year? No – you just need to be smart about your expenses. Will it be worth it? If it makes you happy, then definitely. It’s all part of the process – as long as you’re living and loving every moment of it. It’s definitely worth it.
That thing you call life. What is it? It’s subjective, really. For some, it could mean spending quality time away from the screens with their kids. For others, it could mean exploring the hidden cities halfway across the world trying to communicate with locals who can’t speak a word of their language. It could also mean being one with nature – these are the people who hike up mountains to see the horizon extend to infinity, and to feel small in such a grandiose landscape.
I make time out of my busy life. You can’t possibly tell yourself that you don’t have time when others who do live under the same stars and moon as you. We are all given the same amount of time – we just have to manage our time better for people who have more commitments. Get up an hour earlier each day to spend time with your kids. Sacrifice that TV-time or pick up your kids directly from school, if you’re able to. Take a detour on your way home and buy your kids ice cream before dinner to switch things up. Dedicate space in your day to be thankful for what you have in your life. Dedicate space in your life for the things that give you life, whether it be in the form of the arts, literature, or your well-being.
Your job doesn’t own your life. Unless your job is your passion, or you’re an entrepreneur who enjoys being one with your business, remember that, at the end of the day, your job doesn’t own you. I once believed that I was irreplaceable at my job and couldn’t afford to take a long-enough vacation because the team would take a hit and I’d fill myself with guilt halfway across the world denying myself from enjoying a cocktail by the beach. Boy, was I wrong. When I left my team, they just knew how to pick up from where I left things. Not that I had underestimated my team, but we need to understand that your job isn’t unique. Other people, even if they might not know how to go about it at the moment, they can eventually figure it out on their own. You are replaceable at your job, but you’re not replaceable in your life – so, remember to shift your focus on that focal point. Convincing yourself that you’re too important or irreplaceable at work prevents you to free yourself and to allow yourself to breathe a little.
Your career job can happen at any time. If there’s anything I’m a true victim of, it’s the stress of having overbearing parents constantly reminding you to find a “real” job. As a student, I had a part-time job at a movie theatre which turned into a full-time manager job even years after I had completed my graduate studies. I felt guilty at the thought of leaving my team for another job. I was thinking of their lives and putting themselves before my own. Although I was pressured every now and then by my parents to find a career job, I was in a limbo phase. Those years I spent as a full-time manager at a “not-so-grown-up” job, as my parents would say, I had a full breath of life. I managed in those years to go out on little excursions, start this very blog that gives me life to write, and most importantly, to find myself. I needed to be at peace with myself before I was going to find a career job that I felt confident about. Spoiler alert, I have a career job now at a company that I love and, as an added bonus, my parents love too! I’m well past the age where most people, back in the day, landed their secured job. But that’s okay. None of that matters. Your “real” job can happen at any time. It doesn’t have to be straight out of university. Better yet, if it isn’t, that’s great because you should spend those post-graduate months or years giving yourself a pat on the back with a nice vacation and some “me-time”, especially after spending years of your life studying away the nights. If you spent that much sweat and money on school, why can’t you spend that on you?
It’s never going to feel like a good time to go unless you make it. We also tell ourselves that there’s always something in the way – a grandparent’s birthday, a holiday like Christmas, a child’s birthday. Here’s my piece of advice: Every now and then, break the rules. Christmas? If you’re the type of person who usually hosts your entire family over during the holidays, skip it for just one year to give yourself a little me-time by travelling. Although I myself love hosting parties over the holidays and find joy in doing so, I also find joy in relaxing and spending time for myself. If you’re used to opening gifts with your family on Christmas morning, imagine how that would feel like changing things up for once. What if you were waking up in London on Christmas day heading out onto the streets to find holiday decorations at nearby markets, carollers by the sidewalk and tea shops filled with young families sipping on gingerbread cookies and a cup of good ol’ tea? What if you were waking up in Bali on Christmas morning, feeling the sand between your toes as you walk out of your hut? Wouldn’t it feel like a breath of fresh air to experience something different? That’s the stuff that feeds on life. What if you took your child to Rome for their birthday to show them one of the oldest remains and richest part of history? Exposing a child to different cultures or difference in general opens up their mind and allows them to see a different perspective. This way, they wouldn’t be cultivated to see the world in just one single view or narrative.
Take your kids with you and make it worth it. Work hard, play hard. Recently, I’ve been living by that new motto. Work hard, play hard. And we hear about it a lot in social media. In my case, I have two jobs and although I sacrifice working on some weekends, it makes it all worth it when I do take time off from work for myself. And working on weekends has made me value that time. So when I’m not working on a certain weekend, I make sure that I spend quality time, or I go out to feel free and breathe a little. If one of your excuses is that you have kids, then you’re just missing out on life. Make the best of the time you have with your kids, whether they can be brats or angels. Take them with you on your journeys and teach them the value of breathing a little. Everything that is laid out to you in this blog – share it to them through your quality time spent with them. To feel like you’re living doesn’t always have to be about travelling. If you have a passion for the arts, take them to a museum. There are plenty of kid-friendly museums that have free activities for them. Cultivate their inner spirit and mind. Teach them to enjoy life – something we all forget to do as we grow up.
Find what feels like a breath of fresh air for you. Value your life over lies you tell yourself. Life is way too short to keep “adulting” and setting your life aside. A phase in your life, age, or other external factors should never be the reason why you can’t enjoy what you own. Figure this out first, and believe in it. Every damn step of the way.
Remember to breathe. Remember to let your heart wander. Remember to grow yourself. Remember to value you.
And then, spread that life virus. Inspire others. Don’t use social media to create a fake version of yourself – the version you want people to believe that you’re living a “perfect” life – the lie you tell yourself. Use social media to be transparent and narrate a true story of a certain victory you’ve achieved.
The victory that earned your time, your breath, your stamp in life.
And that thing you call life, use it.