A few weeks ago I started a new phase of my wishlist on my road to success and happiness in life. I put down (well, for a bit..) books on finding happiness, how to win friends, and how to become a successful human, and I began a visual collage, or list as it may seem.
When I went home to Atlanta for Thanksgiving break, I went to my dad’s psychologist. She is a very nice Israeli woman that I would definitely like to have on my side in a fight, mental or physical. Bypassing my own meeting with her, which is fairly unimportant for this post, my dad regaled to me how his doctor began to teach him to overcome his anxiety, which is my main problem as well. She told him to instead of making a list of things you have to do, to make a list of things you want to do. Being the start of a new year, I decided to implement a version of this in my own life.
One morning a few days after the new year, I decided that I was going to try and get my life together. I had just technically graduated college with a physics degree and math minor, turned down the prospect of going to graduate school right away, and really had no desire to get a long term job, even though that would be the “responsible” decision. I realized with certainty that the one strong desire I still have is to travel. My whirlwind of a round the world trip this summer with my best friend in the world (11 countries in 6 weeks, from Africa to southeastern Asia, to Europe and back) really solidified in my mind that what I really love to do is to experience different cultures and meet and talk to as many people as I can. When I was traveling, even though some situations could be considered stressful by most people, I really had zero anxiety the ENTIRE trip. That is really saying more than I can even describe in words.
Not only did I fall in love with meeting people and experiencing new countries, but I also realized the infinite possibilities beyond the walls of living in the states and working for a corporation with a physics degree. The main thing that I learned was, no! I do not have to stay in the US! I pondered the reason why kids in the US grow up with only one language, maybe two, when people living in first, second, or even third world conditions are learning one, two, three, four, even five! New languages as they grow up! I would have been lost in China if it weren’t for my friend Jimmy from Australia who happened to be learning Mandarin! People also do wonderful, crazy things like move from Germany to South Africa to party and take over a relative’s business. They live and go to school in Australia, only to be a ski instructor in Switzerland for the winter taking millionaires heli-skiing! They fall in love with a beautiful girl in Prague and never end up leaving. They move to China for a few months, just because they can! Travel is such a way of life for people in countries outside the US, but most of us here rarely think about traveling abroad, or we think it is way too uneconomical or night the right time, but the fact is.. You can do whatever the hell it is you want.
So, I realized, there are so many things I want to do.. But there are also things that I need to do. This can be rephrased as, “things I want to do.. If I am going to be secure.” And so started my visual list of things that I want to do. I took plain copy paper, markers, and got to work.
I first had no idea what I was even thinking and was flying by the seat of my pants. I started out with a pretty little title of “things I want to do” with pretty little hearts around it so it looks inviting and not scary. Next, sort of like a subject diagram and using separate sheets for each word, I put in big letters main points that I wanted to expand upon: GYM, THESIS, LEARN! And GO. Whenever I think of something related to these four words, I pick which category it should be under, and I out it in smaller letters next to each big word. Whenever I have a new desire, it goes in the most concise way possible on these sheets. They are posted inside my room to the right of my doorframe and surrounding my light switch, so I can always see them.
Let’s face it, the reason I am so terrible at lists in a notebook is because it isn’t always visible to me. Hopefully this will help. Surrounding GO, I have things like the Sundance Music Festival; Angkor Wat, Cambodia; lake Baikal, Russia; and Crater Lake. Surrounding LEARN!, there are German, Spanish, Italian, and COOK. for GYM, one of my goals is to run a half marathon. I am hoping that seeing these “visual lists will keep me in track and remember what is important to me when times et hard or confusing. Always trust your instincts, and mine is telling me to flee.