Everyone says it and we’re all experiencing it: no decade is as confusing and overwhelming as the 20s. Faced with countless possibilities, social media, and an ever-changing world, it’s tough to determine what we want and what our place is. Under the pressure of finding a stable career and lifestyle, it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important to us. We’re reluctant to take this time to focus on ourselves because we feel there is a divide between what we should do and what we want to do. We’re afraid to be uncomfortable, and as a result, we prevent ourselves from experiencing wonderful “accidents,” as one of my favorite authors, Gayle Forman, labels unexpected joys in her book “One Day.”
I was stuck in the same mindset when I started college. I wanted to accomplish everything expected of me. But all around me, people were making big life decisions based off of what brought them the most happiness. My sister fulfilled a lifelong dream of moving to California. A college friend transferred to a school in Rome, and another decided to spend her summer in Africa. When I visited my sister in her new home, something shifted. As I sat watching surfers in Malibu, the perfect place, I wondered what would happen if I moved there and never looked back. I could learn to surf and open a surf shop and maybe become vegan (probably not, I loved In-N-out Burger). It seemed unrealistic, like something that only happened in books or TV shows like Hannah Montana (she lived in Malibu!). But the thing is, it wasn’t.
All of a sudden, it was like I opened up a whole world of possibility. Leaving California, I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to maintain my newfound willingness to take risks. But due to airport troubles, I missed my flight in Houston and ended up spending the night there, where I met the kindest people and got myself a fantastic cowboy hat. I began to think about what life would be like if I could always be landing in different places. I thought about the people I’d met by chance and I wondered what would happen if I kept allowing myself to embrace “accidents.” After my trip, I bought a journal and made a list of things to do, some more possible than others. I could work at Disneyland, but I probably wouldn’t date Cole Sprouse. But hey, knowing your limits is part of the process.
When you put yourself on the best path for you, everything else falls into place. Living a life that makes you happy adds positivity to the world. I recently walked into a Boston bakery on a rainy day and had the most life-changing carrot cake that instantly brightened it. Flour Bakery was started by a Harvard graduate with a degree in applied mathematics who left her career behind after realizing that her true passion was baking. I would never have had that cake if she hadn’t.
What can you do for yourself this year? Let me know in the comments below!