We are all probably guilty of spending a large chunk of our time dreaming about, worrying about, looking for, trying to create love. I am the first to admit, I am. At least I was, because that’s what feels natural. It is often thought that the end goal of our early adulthood is to find a life partner that we can start the next typical stage of our life with. We hear it all the time: “Did you find a new boyfriend yet?” “Any new girls in your life?” “Are you seeing anyone?”. There is a subconscious pressure to be finding the love of your life, like the clock is ticking evermore quickly as we age into our mid-late 20s.
I have recently realized that there is so much more to life than looking for love. We often get lost, trying to find someone else to complete us and we forget to work first on finding ourselves. Doors start to open when you begin to work on yourself. So I want to share a few of the things that you can do (that I am doing) instead of spending all of my time worrying about love.
1. Recognize the love you already have
Between your family, your friends, your mentors, your idols, your biggest fans: you have enough love to go around. You give love and you receive it all of the time. Remember to take the time to recognize, appreciate and improve these relationships. Never forget those who care the most about you.
2. Go to school
It doesn’t matter if it’s community college, undergraduate degree at University, a diploma, certificate, apprenticeship, Master’s, PhD; get an education. You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do, but going to school is so much more than just learning skills to get one specific job. Going to school is about learning who you are, what you like, and more importantly what you don’t.its about meeting new people, gaining skills you can apply in any job force or just in your life in general. Just go to school.
3. Move away from home
Home is home. It’s where you’re comfortable, but the first step in finding yourself is moving out of your comfort zone. You will be homesick, you will visit, but as time goes on you will grow in this new environment. A change of pace is always a good place to start. Find a place you love, where you’re surrounded by beauty, what you find beautiful. Whether that’s city lights at night, or small town foliage.
4. Travel somewhere with a friend
Travelling is something on most people’s bucket list. There are so many places in the world to see, and so many oppourtunities. You can study abroad through your school (as I am next year), you can spring break somewhere warm, you can go on weekend getaways to the next town over, or week trips to another province. Travel with your best friends, make memories, take photos, live a life full of new places.
5. Travel somewhere alone
As I said earlier, you will find yourself outside your comfort zone. If any of you read my writings on Quebec, that was where I first began to realize that there is so much opportunity outside our “usual”. If you’re a Canadian student I suggest Explore as a way to see new parts of Canada, while exposing yourself to new people, experiences, possibly language. Go somewhere by yourself where you can meet people, and do things you never would with the friends you usually hang out with. Where you are forced to do things you will soon love, even if you haven’t realized yet.
6. Volunteer, volunteer, volunteer
This is simple, find something you love to do and volunteer to do it. Work with children, plan events, tutor peers, walk dogs, anything you can dream up. Give back to the community and you will find your mood improving. Giving back really does feel good.
7. Spend a lot of time in coffee shops
This is something I have recently learned thanks to a wonderful friend. Coffee shops provide opportunity to spend time in a very relaxing environment. Do some homework, write, read, sit, chat with a friend, contemplate life, whatever your jam is: do it in a coffee shop. You’ll feel calmer and in good cheer when you leave (peppermint mocha in hand).
8. Learn to cook foods you love
What’s better than food? Nothing. Whether you’re a meat lover, healthy eater, pizza devour-er or Doritos enthusiast: learning to cook is a skill you will value forever. Cooking is a very fun, relaxing activity. Find a recipe that looks delish online and go buy the groceries. You might be surprised at how easy and satisfying cooking (and eating) a great meal is.
9. Get lost in books
With all the reading we are forced to do between textbooks, assignments, work schedules, etc. we often forget the joys of a good book. It can be fiction, romance, biographies, your favorite gossip mag. Reading for enjoyment is one of the most forgotten and underappreciated joys in the world. Get lost in someone else’s story, you might inspire yours.
10. Embrace the outdoors
Get outside. You don’t have to become the next mountain man, but breath in some fresh air. Take a hike, go for a walk in the park, skate on the local rink, go to the beach, anything that works with the season.
11. Be open to new music
It’s easy to get stuck listening to one band, or genre and never changing. I was a pop fanatic with a slightly dysfunctional love for One Direction. Now I have found joy in the Cool New Music: Fall 2015 playlist on Songza. Music enhances situatins. Find some tunes that make your situation better: sappy love songs, fierce Beyoncé, soulful jazz, etc.
12. Take baths
As we get older many of us start showering instead of taking baths. I suggest taking at least one day a week to run a nice hot bubble bath, turn on relaxing music and just have some “me time” to rediscover the joys of childhood baths.
13. Explore your city/town
There are so many hidden gems in every city or town. Find one and share it with someone else. A cute café, a pottery shop, a market, a museum, anything you like! Go to festivals, go to concerts, explore every hidden corner.
14. Learn a new language
There is never a downside to learning a new language. It’s easier than ever with apps for your phone. A new batch of insults, and ways to say “I’m hungry” will always come in handy.
This is simple, but terrifies most people. You don’t need to be an English major, or have author level writing experience to write. It can be anything, thoughts, lists, ideas, stories, poems. Anything you can think you can write. It is very healthy for the soul to write. It gets creativity moving and gives you opportunity to understand yourself better. You’ll be surprised the things you learn when you start writing without purpose.
16. Teach yourself something
Teach yourself to do something new. It’ll be rewarding to start and finish something all on your own. Teach yourself to play piano, to knit, to juggle bowling pins, to face paint professionally, whatever you like. The world is your canvas.
17. Find a new hobby
This can be the thing you teach yourself to do, or something else. Try new things until you find something you absolutely love. Find these new passions, and run with them.
18. Remember an old one
When we hit the age of 20-something we forget the things we used to love. We always say: “I don’t have time for that anymore” or “I’ll do it when I’m not as busy”, but then we never get not busy. Find time to do things you used to love. Re-discover old passions and get back to what makes you happy.
19. Make mistakes
This is the second most important thing to do. This is the time in your life when you are growing, learning, changing. There is no such thing as a bad mistake, each one teaches you something, or provides an opportunity to. It may seem the opposite at the time, but mistakes are the most wonderful things in the world. Make them, embrace them, and accept the changes that come with them.
20. Learn to love yourself
This is also the most vulnerable time of our lives. We have been through so much in high school, and now we are faced with even more pressures. We worry about school, money, the future, jobs, our looks, our health, it’s too much to handle sometimes. We can feel lost and we can feel hopeless. We can lose faith in ourselves. But you are your own light in the darkness. You are your best friend and worst enemy. You can be made to feel like you aren’t good enough, that you aren’t important, but you are. You have to begin to love yourself before you can worry about loving anyone else. Always take care of yourself because you are worth it, and you have so many more adventures to come.