Graduation hits and you have a vision. A dream for where your life will go.
That was me in 2012. I packed up my bags, left the college campus, and moved to San Diego to start my dream as an adult. Since “adulting” wasn’t a verb yet…I fell into this ideal life without any awareness of what it actually meant.
I was on a new mission: to become a successful adult. And to me, that meant climbing the corporate ladder to become some high-achieving engineer making six figures and leading a team. I would wear heels like the Devils Wears Prada, design patents like Elon Musk, and give presentations like Simon Sinek on the TED stage…all in front of hundreds of balding male engineers with glasses and button-downs that their mothers still probably pressed for them in the morning.
I did it though, I “adulted” like it was my job.
In order to get here, instead of building passionate projects, my days were spent doing things I didn’t enjoy. Invitations to Vegas or Tahoe with girlfriends were turned down to make sure I showed up to work Monday morning ready to go. Nights dating or going to happy hour were given up to take online classes or read new books. Vacations and fancy cars were bypassed in order to save all of my money.
Then, at the age of 30. I was done.
Abandoning dreams when they no longer fit isn’t a failure, it’s a success.
This dream I envisioned reaching later in life somehow landed in my lap less than a decade later. I had reached the pinnacle that I previously hoped to one day attain, and getting to the top of it felt…flat.
Have you ever felt that way? You finally get what you always wanted, and that is when you realize it was never what you wanted in the first place.
I saw where this dream was leading me, to become someone and something that wasn’t me: A financially secure, boxed-in joyless woman. I scanned my office hallways only to find living proof of what I would become. It was scary, it was hell. Except in this hell, instead of being hot, it was always cold…my office sweater wasn’t even enough to keep me warm.
This is when it became clear, the dream needed to be let go. And no, that doesn’t mean let go of being responsible and safe, it means to let go of the dream that doesn’t’ fit you anymore. Because dreams do change. And it’s better to let them change than fight them to stay the same.
Boredom is the enemy, and excitement is the goal.
With the old dream abandon, it was time to find a new dream, a new way of living life in adult years. I began to wonder what that dream should be.
This is when I came to realize, happiness isn’t the end goal, excitement is. Think about it, when your life is no longer exciting, that’s when you stop being happy, being fulfilled, and frankly, stop wanting to live.
When boredom and mundane become the descriptors of your life…its time to get a new one.
So, how do you do that? How do you abandon what you always thought would be to explore something else? I have found one simple way to turn life from the lather-rinse-repeat groundhog day of mediocrity into a new world of exciting growth and exploration.
Start trying exciting new things like it is your only job.
If you bid farewell to a dream, like leaving a corporate job, a relationship that was simply safe, or a group of party friends that didn’t actually support one another…you will likely want to fill that with something else.
When you leave your friends, a relationship, and a job behind, you are left with a handful of free time to explore something new. This is where people often seem to go awry. Netflix turns on, Bumble swiping without actually meeting anyone becomes your new Friday night and Instagram becomes your new world of friends. You hunker down instead of expand outward.
While comfort may sound nice and cozy, it isn’t what is going to help you find your way. Inaction is the opposite of growth.
I put together a list of things I started to try that have brought me a great deal of excitement, and perhaps you may want to try as well:
1. Acting classes
Take part in an acting class, whether it be improv exercises, scene study, or comedy sketches. Acting is a huge form of expression and an incredible way to not only get you on stage (hello confidence) but also help you step into other worlds, other lives and see what feels good to you. It is also incredibly fun and playful in a way that I think many adults forget. When you leave the office and go “make-believe” you are, say a manager for Kanye about to introduce him to the President, life becomes more exciting and wild. Give it a try!
Start a blog and begin to write out your dreams, goals, and journeys. Share your story not simply to tell it to other people, but do so in order to better understand it for yourself.
There is something vulnerable and scary about sharing your thoughts with the world, if you hover your finger over the publish button for a brief moment out of fear…you are living excitement in that very moment.
3. Amplify your physical activities
There is something magical about moving your body, it may be the massive amount of endorphins and serotonin spikes that hit, or it is simply how humans were made to be, but movement has a powerful way of making life better and feeling more awe-inspired. Try a new sport or activity (skateboard, surf, tennis, hiking, yoga, volleyball, acro yoga, hip-hop dance, kayaking, mountain biking) and see what feels best for you.
4. Build a business/side-hustle
Whether you quit your job or not, chances are, you want more out of life. And building something completely your own is a great way to explore this. While this blog is all about no longer adulting, that doesn’t mean stop growing yourself. It simply means, when you grow a business you don’t have to be stuffy about it. After all, you don’t have to wear a suit and tie in order to sell your candles on Etsy or offer your photography services for engaged couples. I started a freelance writing business and have been able to be myself and engage with clients as “me”, not some formal puffed up professional woman.
Growing a business opens you up to these exciting new opportunities, these moments of figuring something out, of making a big sale or picking up a new client. It grants you this journey without a roadmap. It is an exciting ride of ups and downs…one that you don’t get anywhere else.
While most people associate “excitement” with sky diving or bungee jumping off a cliff…that isn’t always the case. Baking excitement into your life can be as simple as speaking your truth to a close friend, trying out a new restaurant or going on a bike ride around a nearby lake. As long as it fills you with that feeling of excitement you are on the path towards reconnecting with who you were before that stuffy job, that bland relationship or that mashup of friends who don’t serve you. Find people and things that excite you!
I decided to stop living the mundane adult life and start searching for the extraordinary, the exciting, the unknown. I hope you do too.
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Previously published on Medium.