musings on: wanderlust

I’ve never been big on this whole “wanderlust” concept that has taken twenty-something culture by storm in recent years. I’ll admit I went about my post-university years in a fairly conventional way—which I guess, these days, is actually pretty unconventional. I finished my 4-year degree and went straight to grad school; I spent the last semester of grad school applying for jobs and going for interviews; I received a contract position and started working a couple of weeks after graduation; and my contract position eventually led to a full-time job. I moved to a new city and got an apartment. I bought a car about a year after that. And life has basically been moving along pretty seamlessly since. Of course, I’ve always made plenty of time for fun and adventure (because otherwise, what’s the point, right?) but I’ve always put a lot of value on responsibility and direction. That’s just the way I’m built.

Now here we are, about three years into my career, and I’m feeling very ready for a bit of a mix up! Call it wanderlust, call it restlessness, call it finally having enough money in the bank, but with my twenty-sixth birthday fast approaching (eep!) I find myself longing for a change of pace and a change of scenary. Am I content the majority of the time? Of course. Am I looking to completely rebuild my life? No. Do I feel the need to escape everything and everyone around me? Definitely not. But am I feeling a need for rejuvination? Well, yes. You see, in my mind, we can’t possibly make the most of the very limited time we have (especially the limited time we have as young, healthy, energetic, unattached twenty-somethings!) if all we’re doing is cruising along at full speed moving singlemindedly towards all of the things we think we want and need—money, a better job, love. I think it’s infininitely important to have goals, and to go after all that you’re looking for in your life, but sometimes taking a breather, reevaluating, and simply enjoying being who and what you are at this particular moment can be the best thing for you—and can help get you ready for what’s to come. Often, to get out of your head, you just need to get out of town.

Luckily for me, my vacation time is scheduled, my tickets are booked, my bags will soon be packed, and I’ll be jetting off for a month-long European excursion with three of my oldest and dearest friends in just a few weeks. I feel very blessed and crazy excited. I can’t wait to soak in beautiful countries and cultures, meet incredible people, eat incredible food, and take in a little piece of what the world has to offer.

Even for a tried and true straight path gal like myself, sometimes a temporary dip onto a winding backwoods trail is exactly what the soul needs.

The Lone Traveler

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musings on: gratitude.

Fittingly, in the aftermath of Mother’s Day, I was reminded the other day—for the zillionth time in my twenty-something years—that my mother is remarkable. How she manages to stay on top of her own life, career, and marriage while also patiently and lovingly dealing with the issues and demands of four children who are all in completely different stages of their lives with completely different needs (seriously—we’ve got a late twenty-something, an early twenty-something, a second-year university student, and a high school student. How?) is a quality I am continually in awe of, and one I can only hope I’ll be able to replicate with my own children one day.

It had just been one of those weeks—you know the ones I mean. My job isn’t right. My love life isn’t right. My bank statements definitely aren’t right. Where should I be living? What should I be doing? And what am I doing wrong? Oy. My mom stayed on the phone with me for who knows how long, listening when she needed to, laughing when she needed to, and offering advice when I needed her to. She said a lot of things that made a lot of sense (like she always does) and managed to pull me out of my temporary funk (like she always does), but one thing she said to me really stuck:

You attract the same energy you’re putting out into the world. If you give off negativity and depression, that’s the only thing people will see in you. If you’re tough and positive and grateful, you will attract the things you want.

This might sound like a cliché—something I should know by now and not something I needed my mother to tell me—but I’ve learned never to underestimate the power of a cliché in a critical moment. Clichés of romance, clichés of inspiration, clichés of motivation—we overuse them because, more often than not, they are exactly what is needed and what makes the most sense in a particular situation. And, in my experience, they also tend to be true. And I think there is infinite truth to the point my mom was trying to make: if you’re grateful for what you have and hopeful about what’s to come, everything you have will feel like enough and the things that follow will fall into place in their own time.

It’s strange, and maybe also a little sad, to think that the people who are most blessed tend to be the ones who struggle most with gratitude. Why is it that the more we have and the more things go right in our lives, the more we lament what we don’t have and the things that have gone wrong? I made a prime example out of myself the other day. I have a job in an industry I long hoped to be a part of (even if temporarily), working for a company that I believe in and with people who are kind, intelligent, fun, and supportive. I have a big, loud, loving family who I can say anything to and do anything with, and who are always there when I need them. Whether I go back to my hometown, or to the city where I attended university, or to the city I’m currently living in, I’m lucky enough to find people who love me and friendships from different phases of my life that continue to enrich me. I’ve been successful enough so far to afford an apartment and a car and, on a smaller scale but equally important, things like groceries and a gym membership. I’ve been able to travel. I volunteer for organizations I care about and have met endless people who have inspired me. And, never to be underestimated, I am healthy. Things aren’t perfect, and like every person (twenty-something or otherwise) I am definitely a work-in-progress, but all things considered, I am blessed. Why is it so hard to remember all of these things when you’re feeling disappointed or hurt or overwhelmed? Maybe it’s just that innate human desire to continually be better—do more, see more, have more, be more. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I think I would be equally unsatisfied if I was becoming complacent with my life. But there is a critical difference between being content and stagnant and being content while evolving. I can be satisfied with what I have and make the most of my life as it is on this day but still know that there is more for me—and believe that I will get there.

So I choose gratitude. Grateful for where I’m at. Grateful for the people that surround me. Grateful for the opportunities I’ve been given. Grateful for mom.