I think the world was made in round
To keep us all from lying down.

But another possibility
Is that it’s curved so we can’t see –

Too far into the future plan
What lies in store for those who ran…

And turned their backs to follow heart
And chose to live their lives apart.

-James Gray


Chose to live their lives apart.

I don’t know what that means to you. Hell, I don’t even know what it means to me. All I know is that in 2014, I’m going to continue to try my best to do it.

Back in 2011, I decided to stop waiting for other people to make me happy and start doing things to make myself happy. Doesn’t seem like that challenging of a concept, but you’d be surprised how many people refuse to do it. Why? Because doing it requires a lot of discomfort. Like, I would say that I am uncomfortable 90% of the time, whether it’s because I’m socially awkward, currently strapped up to a heart monitor that I think I’m allergic to, or because I’m constantly pushing myself to make my life more exciting. Mostly the first last one.

When my ex-husband and I separated, I decided I was going to take a picture every single day for the entire year that we had to be separated before I could file for divorce. My reasoning for doing so was that I had never lived by myself before, and I wanted to remember my first year on my own. I was terrified of what it would be like to live on my own. At first, I took a lot of pictures of my dog. Cute as he is, I didn’t really want to look at 365 pictures in a row of him. I started noticing seemingly mundane things, like the way the sun was hitting the wheat field near my house, because it might make for a cool photo. I was experiencing the world more because I was forcing myself to notice it. Soon, I realized that something strange was happening without me even trying – I went out of my way to put myself in situations that would yield an interesting picture. Nothing crazy at first, but I would think things like “Well, even though I’ll be anxious going out for drinks, at least I’ll get a good picture.” The same thing happened when I started this blog. I found myself doing things because it would be fun to write about. And you know what? Things that are interesting to write about are also interesting to do. And they make your life more interesting by proxy.

In 2014, my only resolution is to make my life as interesting as possible. That’s it. I’m choosing to “live my life apart.” I want to tell people my plans and hear them say “that’s insane” because they are so out of the ordinary that they would never occur to most people. I don’t want to limit myself by anyone else’s idea of what’s safe or fun or worthwhile or entertaining or smart. I want to look back at my pictures and not be able to believe that I was lucky enough to experience any given event or day. I want to have stories to tell my grandkids (if I can figure out a way to get grandkids without having to actually have children). This year, I’m going to focus on learning more about other people and the way they live. When I go to other countries, I’m going to eat their weird food (without asking what it is first, because I feel like that will yield better results). I’m going to stay in traditional hotels and homes, do homestays when possible, visit farms, head to off-the-beaten-path destinations, and volunteer. I want to spend 2014 improving myself through the perspectives of others.

I don’t want my life to be ordinary. I don’t want yours to be, either. But “ordinary” is relative. The fact of the matter is that we all have different resources, different capacities, and different desires. Stop telling yourself that your life can’t be exciting because you don’t have the same resources as someone else. You might not be able to travel the world, but I bet you can go to a state park with your kids and go hiking, get a little lost, and make some great memories. You might not want to raise money by running a marathon for charity, but there’s probably a soup kitchen that could use your help one Saturday. You can always be more fascinating. This is one of the most important lessons that I am constantly trying to learn.

I am under no illusions. I know life is not easy and people have very challenging lives. I know there are many factors that limit what we can and cannot do, but the biggest barriers are the mental limits we place on ourselves. Don’t let anyone else define what a fulfilling existence means to you, just strive to make the life you are living now more fulfilling. I do not think I live the most interesting life in the world or anything even close. A lot of people would probably think it is pretty bland. I just know that I live a much more interesting life than is natural for me. That is the key. Expand your boundaries just a little bit, whatever those boundaries are. I push myself out of my comfort zone every day because discomfort brings growth and cool souvenirs.

I don’t know if this makes sense. It may sound like the naive ramblings of a privileged twenty-something who lives in a bubble.  I should probably resolve to save more money, or stop biting my nails, or stop throwing ideas at AJ just to see him roll his eyes, but I’ll stick to this instead. My blog would be pretty boring otherwise.

LEAVE A COMMENT: What is your new year’s resolution?

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