Life advice from a nineteen year old

You are more than welcome to listen to none of this because let’s be honest, what the hell do I know about life and risk.

To preface the concept of me giving life advice regarding the need to be spontaneous, I’d like to inform you that I recently relocated myself to a study room with all intentions of doing my homework. In a lack of motivation and undeniably creative ability to procrastinate, I instead booked a one-way ticket to Hawaii that leaves only hours after my last final. A word of warning, there is such a thing as too spontaneous.

I want to draw attention to the concept of ‘living in the moment’ and how I have never personally understood the meaning or appeal of this statement. Maybe it’s due to that fact that I find myself in education where one is forced to look towards at least the near future in terms of deadlines and exams. The distant future also seems to be lingering as more and more people begin to question what it is you want to do with your life. This frame of mind seeps through into everyday life and although I am not always as organized as I wish to be, I would definitely consider myself a planner. Learning this about myself was the first step to living a spontaneous life. Within the safety of a loose plan, I could comfortably make rash and risky decisions and completely avoid any mental breakdowns. Ok, that last part was a lie but despite not living completely in the moment, sometimes I can orchestrate a part of my life with little thought or caution and so far, none of the choices have failed to teach and ultimately benefit me.

Aside from the ticket to Hawaii, my most recent bout of spontaneity landed me in a new city, at a new school, halfway across the world from my family and friends and with no real plan for when I got here. My loose structure was the study abroad organization which ended up being useless so off to Seattle I went with little knowledge of how the next six months of my life would work both academically and socially. I am no stranger to moving to foreign countries but I am a stranger to doing it alone and the natural onset of pre-move jitters and low-key travel anxiety hit me hard in the weeks leading up to my departure. hfhforThough extremely painful, this period of emotion managed to teach me a lot of about myself. I learned how to deal with anxiety attacks, especially when they hit you in the middle of downward facing dog during a packed yoga class. I now know that it is ok to cry yourself to sleep five nights in a row because you are unsure whether you’ll ever find someone to cover your rent in London. Most importantly, I learned how to be completely, one-hundred percent independent. There is nothing more isolating than going through a struggle that no one around you is facing. Words of comfort only mean so much when the person supplying them isn’t actually living through your situation. I know this sounds dramatic, no one was forcing me to move. Except that I was forcing myself because nothing is worse than backing down when you’ve started something. And hey, I lived. I’m thriving in Seattle and I only cry myself to sleep once every other night so things are looking up!

Seattle was a spur of the moment decision as was applying to study in London and to do a Bachelors in Linguistics despite not knowing what that would entail. All of these major decisions had little thought put into them which, if you know me, is a bit shocking because I tend to put a whole lot of extra thought into things that really don’t matter at all. I used to think the reason behind my spontaneity was laziness. It’s much easier to just decide quickly rather than ponder over all your options and do a bunch of research. This honestly might be part of it but when looking at my behavior patterns I can’t help but think that there is something much bigger happening. I think I get happiness out of risking it all and realizing that everything turns out ok. There is something intensely satisfying about putting yourself out there and facing all the issues that are created head-on. If a balance between recklessness and healthy risk can be struck, then I for one believe that everyone who is fortunate enough to live in the moment should take advantage of that.

Maybe I’m not one to preach. I’m only nineteen, I’ve seen a very small percentage of what the world has to offer and I definitely do not have my life together. I still have breakdowns and panic attacks and major freakouts over minor situations. The point, however, is that I have always managed to look past my fear, make a huge decision and then deal with whatever might follow as a result. In my personal opinion that’s a whole lot better than never being spontaneous at all.


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