A list of adventures as I go.
- Driving around Michigan – summertime
- Take a train across the country
A list of adventures as I go.
Typically, the days (in reality, weeks) leading up to my birthday are rife with anticipation. Am I ready to leave my current age behind, did I make the most of this past year of existence, what will it feel like to say I’m twenty-four, not twenty-three, etc.
The thing is, this year, I didn’t really have any of this anticipation. And I think that’s because I feel like I’m actually doing what I need to be doing. That I’m right where I need to be.
At this same time last year, I was a bit of a mess. I was twenty-two, going on twenty-three, but it didn’t feel like that at all. It felt like I had somehow skipped past my twenties. This will do a terrible job of explaining it but to me, it seemed like the rush and excitement that is a natural constant in your life in your twenties – when you have no idea what the next week will bring you, much less the next year – had escaped me. Instead, I was left with routine and habit, and this sinking feeling that dug deep into the very core of my being that I knew what my life would look like from here on out. I felt stagnant, and a little bit trapped.
A few weeks after my birthday, I made some changes. I moved out of the apartment I shared with my boyfriend at the time and into a house with five dudes I’d met on Craigslist. I made new friends. I kept old friends. I threw myself into projects and situations in which I felt enormously uncomfortable (meeting new people, eeek). I came back to my old relationship and then left it for a second time, which was one of the most painful, yet necessary things we could have done. I traveled. I drank beer. I brewed beer. I continued meeting new people.
And as a result, in the weeks prior to turning twenty-four, I didn’t give my age a single thought. Although there was a lot of confusion and a few tears shed, the word I most associate with this year is “exhilarating”. It feels like I’m exactly where I need to be, making things up as I go.
Was listening to an episode of Design Details earlier, and the topic of writing was brought up. More specifically, the topic of being afraid to publish something – this fear that I have this thought but I don’t want to put it out there because (A) I don’t want to be wrong, and (B) I might change my mind in the future.
This fear resonated.
I haven’t posted here in over a year, and if I’m being honest with myself, a good chunk as to why has to do with that fear, and it comes from a lot of different places. I don’t want my writing to interfere with my work, I don’t want to put myself out there in a way that makes me uncomfortable, I no longer feel like I have nothing to lose, etc.
The way out of all this – as summarized by Sahil Lavingia in the podcast and originally said by Stephen King – is to just write, and to write a lot. To move so fast that you’re essentially outrunning your own self-doubt.
I could use a little more of that in my life – less thinking, more doing – and I think the place to try that again is here.
To myself, I say “Welcome back.”
I saw this in Offscreen Magazine and wanted to hold onto and remember this advice. It’s from Matt Steel, and it’s about burn out.
“In the US, we’re trained to think that successful people are busy. We’ve all heard about the inevitable burnout that occurs when people work too much. But we quickly forget these cautionary tales and rationalise our habits, because we’re afraid of what our lives will look like if we slow down and pay attention. Deep down, many of us wonder if we’re wasting our time on things of little consequence. So we keep skittering along the surface at a feverish pace, avoiding the mirror of introspection.”
Slow down. If you’re busier than you’d like to be, don’t try to curate your life. First, slow down. Focus on the here and now. Get present. Pay attention to where your energy is drawn, the good and the bad. Healthy priorities will naturally reveal themselves. Your life will start to curate itself.
Stop trying to be a hero. Commit to a schedule you can sustain and tasks you can complete without killing yourself. No one will go into cardiac arrest if you turn down a project.
Go home. Leave the office by 6pm. Have dinner with family or friends, relax and get a good night’s sleep. You’ll feel refreshed and focused when you arrive at work in the morning.
Minimise meetings. Meetings can be necessary, but quite often they are straight-up time wasters. Ask if there might be a more efficient way to make decisions. Offer suggestions. Get creative.
Go dark. Switch your mobile phone to airplane mode. Let’s face it: our communication addictions aren’t making us happy or productive. Stay offline unless you need to do some research. Do your important work first, and answer emails later. Be proactive, not reactive. And for crying out loud, stay away from social media unless you’re taking an intentional break. Use it as a reward for work done.
Leave your desk for lunch. Read a book, take a walk, visit a museum — anything to change your environment and unplug for a bit. The change of scenery will be refreshing, and you’ll be ready to tackle the afternoon’s work upon returning to your desk.
Give up on multitasking. Multitasking is just plain inefficient. Period, You can go broad, but you can’t go deep. Instead, set aside large chunks of time to focus on one task at a time. Let people know you’re unavailable.
Last week I was stuck, miserable in bed, having been hit by some kind of 24-hour bug. It got me thinking about health and what that means in a world of busy days, insurance plans, and living in a city that’s filled with every kind of delicious greasy food item you could dream of.
For most of my life, I never had to make a decision about whether or not to go to the gym. As a student-athlete, I had chunks of time out of my day that were purely devoted to practice, weight-lifting, and conditioning. But outside of being an athlete, if you spend time on any university campus you are constantly in motion. One minute, you’re off to class. The next, you’re running nearly a mile across the quad to make a group meeting. Looking back, I seriously wish I had been counting my steps (quick kudos to my new Jawbone Up) to prove how much college-Kait would destroy current-Kait in terms of sheer activity. Plus – and perhaps most importantly – all this meant I could order Domino’s and cinnasticks to my heart’s content.
Which brings me to today. In the real world, you work at a desk, sitting down, for a majority of the day. To say I felt the effects of being sedentary immediately would be a bit of an understatement. Since then I’ve migrated to a standing desk, but there’s been this question eating at me for the last six months…
What does the word “healthy” mean for me now, and if it involves exercise, when am I going to actually do it?
After a couple months of swearing to go to yoga every night, to then trying to work out around lunch at the gym next-door, to swearing off exercise entirely…I think I’ve found the answer. Perhaps you’ll find this helpful as well.
What I’ve found is that the only time I personally will ever go and perform some kind of deliberate physical activity is right before I hop in the shower. It has to be quick – twenty to thirty minutes at max – or else it eats up more time than I can commit to. So if I’m showering in the morning, I run around the neighborhood as soon as I wake up. If I’m showering at night, same thing. Weekends are reserved for yoga, since that’s when I can devote a full hour and a half to it.
Now, this took me six months to figure out. People put health and fitness up on a pedestal sometimes, but when you break it down, it’s simple. If exercise makes you feel good, you only need to fit in 20 minutes where you can. A fancy yoga mat isn’t necessary, nor are those Nike iDs you’ve been eyeing. Just put on the shoes you have, and hit the pavement.
Throughout my entire existence – and my mother can attest to this – I’ve had a tendency to say, “I know.” When someone gives me instructions, I get frustrated. “I know, I know,” I say, “I know.” I believe the fear of seeming ignorant or slow is at the root of this. Yet when my sole response to advice is, “I know,” I only come off as uncoachable.
What I’m slowly realizing is – I’m trying to get to the punch line quickly – no one is expecting me to know everything.
Regardless of whether I think I know or not, I am twenty-two years old. I have a lot of learning ahead of me. And as an insatiably curious person, it’s learning that I desperately want. Lucky for me, for the majority of the day, I am in a position that requires constant growth and learning from experience. What is expected of me, as opposed to knowing everything, is to have ideas and opinions. There are no concrete facts, no index cards to memorize, just the simple desire to add something to the conversation.
This paralyzation of being incorrect, or of feeling inexperienced, is counteractive to everything else I do and feel towards my life right now. As a young person, in a new city, doing work that I love…the doors for novel adventures are wide open and the roads leading out from them are endless.
And why try to pretend I know so much? It seems that would take the fun out of everything.