5 WAYS TO LIVE THE LIFE YOU’VE IMAGINED NOW.
While I write this, I’m looking out a multi-walled window, far above Wellington City. Drake’s “Get It Together” resounds through a bulky set of headphones. I’m drinking from a complimentary Waiwera water bottle. It’s 6.40am, and what’s going through my head? That I won’t be drinking this same water again soon.
Are you not fearful?
These last few weeks, I have spent answering similar questions. You could consider this post here a more definitive answer. It is written with a hopefulness, that my own mindset will benefit your willingness to move boldly, no matter the place you find yourself now.
I read a passage a long time ago, and like most significant passages I read, I struggle to both articulate this one’s author as well as its actual wording. That being said, it’s important. So much the way I have across several good-byes in the past couple of weeks, I’ll attempt to reiterate it again now.
While I fumble with the wording, the concept itself is simple: it says that if there exists not a single person within our city — real or imagined — living our dream life, then quite plainly, we’re not in the right place.
How can we expect our aspirations to come true, after all, if their materialisation is beyond our current means? If our dreams do, inherently, situate themselves in an alternate place than we?
I’ve voiced this idea multiple times to explain my moving to Melbourne. Sure, I could have spoken about the need for change, excitement, growth — even, just, the desire to “really live, you know?”. Somehow, however, this has always explained it better.
I am moving to Melbourne for a single reason: because you don’t stay in a place where your dream life won’t be realised. Simple as that. You leave. And you go find the very place it will.
So when people talk about fear and hesitation, I relate on a far lesser level than I have come to believe is typical.
I’m fortunate that my biggest fear (and my biggest source of anxiety) thus far is not achieving / experiencing / living the way I have always assured I would. It’s not the youthful movie star goal I’m concerned about — but the travel and the passion work, the happiness and the hard work, the getting somewhere and the being someone.
My biggest fear is that I reach 50 and find out that I slotted in like the rest: I grew assured that many of the things that drove my younger self, were as the pessimistic described: “optimistic” and “naive”. I call this fear fortunate because it’s the single fear that manages to counter most others, by merely existing.
It’s a fear of staying put. And at this stage, I don’t treat it like an insecurity, nor like an inability to commit. There’s a large difference between ability and desire, after all. Simply because we can do something doesn’t mean to say that we want to do that thing. At least, not right now.
It’s at this stage in discourse where I’d expect to hear my brother’s sarcasm-filled voice in my ear: “You’re the man.” As always, I’ve come prepared with a retort. The way I see it, we’re both as special and un-special as each other. There are a lot of people who do amazing things. There are just as many that do not. To do so, then, appears a choice thing; not a thing savoured for a holy and gifted few.
I decided a long time ago which person I would be, or rather, which person I’d be proud to be. It was less a decision I suppose; more of an intrinsic path (a result of my own personality paired with those of my parents and various other influences).
So there it is. This is not about being special. It’s about mindset. It’s about knowing what you want. It’s about knowing what you don’t. Vague as the answers may be, it’s about going the fuck after both.
Below I have broken into 5 steps, the mindset that has seen me up until this moment. 19 years old. Digital media and creative manager. Fashion and lifestyle blogger. Zumba instructor (?). 1 paper from finishing my degree, and on my way to begin a new journey in Melbourne. It doesn’t have to be yours — but if it helps, as always, it has been worthwhile to share.
- Have a plan. Rough as it may be, stick to it.
Let’s start from (one of) the beginning(s). The final couple of years I lived at home, I was painful to deal with. I knew it then, and I understand it with even further comprehension now. By Year 13, I was beyond restless. So bloody eager to move on from school, to (as I saw it) begin my life. This same one which both I and they had talked about for so long now. Me, I was sick of talking. I was impatient to act, and I tended to take this impatience out on those around me.
I was so desperate to exert control over my own path that I tried to break out at home. At school. In fact, in almost every circumstance I could.
I wasn’t entirely disrespectful. I still showed a lot of love for my teachers, for my friends and for my family. But all the same, I lost a lot of care for consequence. It just didn’t matter (so long as I was doing the shit I wanted to do). If this sounds very “typical teenager”, it’s probably because it was.
Anyway, when school finally finished, I decided to keep studying. It sounds an odd choice and totally counterproductive to the restless stage I was at, but I had my reasons. And what was most important: they made sense to me.
Ironically, taking a gap year never appealed. I didn’t like the idea of going away and then, “returning to life”. Everyone spoke of it like a purposeful highlight; a temporary escape that would eventually and inevitably lull you back into mundanity and uniformity. By this point, you were simply expected to be more okay with it. After all, you’d had your time. You’d “got it out of your system” — as if adventure, risk and, ultimately, living, were the plague. Things which ought to be rid of us, so we can return to living someone else’s idea of “properly”.
Don’t get me wrong, it works for a lot of people. I was, myself, however, slightly resentful of the concept. I looked instead to make the euphoric gap year, a euphoric lifetime. And as soon as possible.
So far as my decision to study went, I wanted to move cities, to grow independent and experience a new place myself; to expand a new circle of friends, knowledge and experience. And I wanted to get a degree, because let’s be honest, society just values that shit.
I also had to be honest with myself: I valued that shit too. I wished to be experienced in a certain field, and I knew to be that way, I needed to study it further. I have been obsessed with all things media, journalism and communication for a while (again, a passion I was fortunate to discover early on). I have both sub-consciously and consciously devoted my study, work, personal and any other such life in which I am involved, to media in some way or form.
I’m not talking about social media (though yes, I’m obviously immersed in this too). By original definition, media refers to a means by which something is communicated or expressed. About this expression — about human relations; the way we interact and why — I am incredibly encaptured. I was (and I am) convinced by the task of involving myself in all ways possible, with all the skills I possess.
My plan was to study, but I knew I didn’t want to do it for too long. All the same, I knew that if I threw myself into the big, bold world too soon, quite frankly, I wouldn’t have come back.
And hey, maybe things would have worked out just fine that way too. But as I said, I wanted a degree. I also wanted to maximise on the fact that I was (am) young. I’ve always liked it: being this age and having done this and this. It makes me proud. I wanted to stay true to that.
During my first year at uni, I studied and I partied and I blogged and I worked part-time as a waitress and I picked up writing gigs and I wrote for the University magazine, and I fell in love and I made best friends and I made home of a new city. During second year, I partied somewhat less and I blogged somewhat less and instead, I worked just about full-time in social media marketing and I taught Zumba and I picked up freelance design, PR and writing work, I kept studying (even harder than the year prior), I learnt more about love, I learnt more about myself, I travelled across New Zealand, I travelled to Fiji, and to Australia, and back and forth between Auckland and my then home, Wellington.
Both years, I’d complete Summer school. I’d talk to lecturers and heads of faculties to be granted exemptions for taking papers I otherwise couldn’t. I’d walk the length of Wellington twenty odd times to learn five essays. I’d talk to myself, as if David Attenborough, in attempt to brighten the less interesting of information I was required to retain.
Now, in two years time, I have near finished my 3 year degree (minus one 15 point paper, of which I’m completely from afar, being that it wasn’t offered over Summer). While I didn’t even realise this was possible, in both an odd and completely sensical way, it aligns perfectly with my plan.
The point is, be your plan rough, your intentions vague, it is important to discern them nonetheless. And progressively, to ensure your actions become them. Both those apart of the day-to-day and of the bigger picture.
- Don’t accept life as anything short of what you imagined as a kid. Stop using the word “idealistic”.
This is one of the most disheartening facts of adulthood: everyone uses the word “idealistic” far too often.
Look, I understand that life isn’t all fairies and roses. It’s hard. Believe me this, I know it. I know it well. Just take the pressure I place on myself as an indicator.
Call me naive, but I don’t see this as sufficient reason for deeming ideals a useless phenomena. The term “idealistic” frames the imagination of ideals like deep-fried foods. They ought to be avoided. They are unproductive. Only asking us to encounter failure on whatever journey we find ourselves.
I’d argue otherwise. Without ideals, we set ourselves up for failure by not setting ourselves up for success. If we assume everything is overly optimistic and out of our reach, likelihood is, we just won’t seek for anything great at all.
I like to think that my now (and future) life is satisfying my inner kid. The eager, anticipating one, who saw the world like she did a starry sky. Full of hope and opportunity. I’m building my life with that kid in mind.
Indeed, what I want changes all the time. But more than I care to admit, I’m the same girl as I was before. I value the same things in life. I’ve just learnt how to articulate them. I like to laugh, to have fun, to feel loved, to show love, to share personality and to experience the best moments in life, just like I did as a kid.
The way I see it, it’s okay to stay true to (some of) your childhood dreams. You don’t have to let people tell you this is unproductive, and that you ought to reassess. Chances are those same people are settling for structure and quotidian paths anyway. They’re only envious that you haven’t lost an ability to see more yet.
Do one more thing. Don’t let that yet ever come to fruition.
HINT: It’s actually far easier and far more exciting to imagine the best of life is achievable. To imagine otherwise, and still find motivation — well, surely, this is the weightiest task of all.
- Invest in the person you want to be — in any and all ways you can.
Investing in yourself tends to take on one of two images: a selfish or a materialistic one. Usually I’d reject the notion of either. After all, becoming someone requires investment in that person. It requires investment in your current self too.
Consider it an unfortunate truth, but change relies upon a strong self-focus. This is not to say this focus has to be narrowed or singular. One ought to remember that when it comes to self-investment, the limit certainly does exist — however, so too does the need to engage in it.
When I talk about investing in yourself, I’m referring to the things that give back. We should invest in our appearance and by way of, our level of confidence. We should invest in our health and our well-being, and thus, our mind and our body. We should invest in our best self, and then inadvertently, we shall in our happiness and our satisfaction too.
The other day, I bought a new camera for vlogging (check out my Moving to Melbourne vlog here!). Sure, this could be perceived as a whim purchase. I could equally be characterised as excessive and quick to indulge.
I don’t see it the same way (granted I may well be reassuring myself).
Given my love for content curation in general (both video and photo), as well as my personal enjoyment for Youtube content, I’ve been looking to bring this aspect to my blog for a while. What’s more, I view it as valuable to invest in passion projects. It’s a way of granting opportunity and opening doors for ourselves. Investment, after all, entices (even demands) something in return. Usually, hard work and dedication.
What else? When I’m not head-deep in local op-shops, I’ll use Lyst.com.au (see: my boots) to inspire and expand my wardrobe. This is another area in which I’ll gladly invest. That my blog bases itself strongly upon a fashion aspect is, after all, far from accidental; it stems from both my love for and my avid belief in the tool. Fashion is confidence. It is idealistic (hey, look at the word shine under a positive light). Fashion is the sole industry in which we’ll get away with identity theft; it is the only one in which this can be perceived a positive act too.
Fashion is for expressing yourself. But it’s also for expressing the person you wish to become: their personality, their attitude, their lifestyle and all. Image is everything. And it’s not always a bad thing. It grants us the ability to play with it.
By all means, fashion is a fake-it-till-you-make-it mechanism, and it pushes us. You can’t wear oversized denim and not integrate a bit of edge into your personality and attitude (at least for the day). Likewise you can’t wear knee-high boots, and strut around without confidence. The spirit with which these clothes are intended, are exactly those we take on when we wear them. Fashion is powerful, and lyst.com.au, The Iconic and Asos are all awesome platforms which combines the world of it (varying trends, brands and pricing). Let them inspire your wardrobe, and then, let your look inspire you.
Ask yourself this: what are the little and the big things which comprise the ideal me and her life? Does ideal you go to the gym? Sign up today. Does ideal you brunch on Sundays? Put money aside. Work harder. Brunch on Sundays. Does ideal you travel often? Pick a place. Decide on dates. Implement a saving scheme. Book. Go.
Does ideal you smile more? Smile. Does ideal you laugh away the little things? Stop stressing. Start laughing. Does ideal you live in your city? Stay. Or pick a new place. Plan. Go.
Don’t expect progression without investment. Small or big, monetary or mental, invest in your own change.
- Unless constructive and well moralled, do your best to ignore the remarks and the judgements of others.
What I like to remember is that we’re all at a different stage, because for a large part, we’ve actively chosen to be at that stage. Jealousy only becomes relevant as soon as one of us is unhappy with the stage we’re at.
Here’s the thing: about moving to Melbourne, I received mixed response. Some of my close friends were utterly excited for me, even congratulating me for getting to where I am so quickly. They exclaimed how impressed they were, and how much they personally anticipated this next step for me.
While I had outgrown my affection with Wellington, I respected that it was still the place for them. I didn’t try to convince them that it ought not be. That their path was the wrong one. After all, who am I to say so? For goodness sake, I don’t even know if my path is the right one! We can only judge what feels right for us, and go for it. We all do our best, right?
Well, not everyone has (or had) the same mentality. Not to say anyone reacted badly, but a couple of people simply didn’t react at all. I could tell they didn’t really want to talk about it. For some reason, it made them feel uncomfortable. They seemed desperate to show no emotion, or to come across unfazed. It was as if I was discussing my impending trip to the supermarket — hey, in that case, I would have understood.
This sort of reaction confirmed three things for me. Firstly, the importance of making decisions for you. Because at the end of the day, people will react how they will. Sometimes they’ll surprise you; sometimes they’ll disappoint you. When you make decisions that you’re happy with, you’ll be happy with them despite the reactions they evoke.
Secondly, that when the tables turn, I hope I am and shall always try to be the first person I described. I admire that kind of person: with the ability to be happy at others’ progression, whilst still happy in themselves.
Finally, it confirmed that the reaction of others isn’t always valuable. Sometimes, we honestly ought to dismiss it — even from those who mean a lot to us.
We are not perfect humans, none of us. We don’t always react appropriately and soundly. We don’t always extend the right emotion. We can’t expect that others will consistently either.
What’s more, we are not the same. We don’t always know what’s right for another person. We can’t expect that others will always know what’s right for us.
I’m not recommending that you should disregard all advice you’re given from someone else. But do take it with a pinch of salt. Because damn do we give it out like that (this is awfully ironic, isn’t it).
I’m not going to jump ahead and claim those peers who reacted slightly unexpectedly, were jealous either. It may well have been jealousy; it may well have been something else (even, something personal going on with them).
Either way, it pays to ignore those ill-founded reactions. Whilst sometimes they can be hard to discern, usually we can trust our intuition. If something feels right for you and is good for you, those around you should be supporting of that.
But if they’re not, try not to hold it against the person. We’ve probably reacted in an off manner ourselves in the past. We should only hope that others ignored us then too!
- Remember that when it’s not motivating, fear is largely unproductive.
I’m going to keep this one brief, because honestly there’s not much to it.
Not including, for example, when it has stopped you from diving into a crocodile-infested river (this is good — I’m glad you were fearful then), name one occasion when fear has benefited you.
Name one occasion when fear has made you do a better job than you would have done without it.
Name one occasion when fear has made you live more than you would have lived without it.
I struggle to do so. And for this sake, I decided a while ago to (best I could) avoid the emotion in general.
The truth is, we don’t always get multiple chances in life. I don’t wish for fear to ever be the reason that I don’t present well. That I miss an opportunity. That I fail.
I’d much prefer another justification. If I fail, then I fail. But not because I didn’t present my whole self on stage to compete. I’d hate to consistently contemplate what could have been, had I not been so fearful.
The only person upon whom fear performs injustice, is ourselves. Being fearful is like shooting ourselves in the foot right before a race. We can control this emotion, and we should.
What’s more, dismissing fear makes life more fun! When you stop putting so much pressure on interviews and public speaking and any such occasion where you could indeed humiliate yourself, you’ll actually find space to enjoy them! You’ll keep things in perspective. You won’t stress the little things in life. You’ll do and you’ll present better.
For all the times you might embarrass yourself, I promise you’ll impress yourself ten times more.
So replace fear with trust.
Trust yourself. Trust your path. Trust your intuition.
Last but not least, don’t sit tight. Don’t wait to on more tools when you have those three.
Who knows what could possibly come of their combination?!
Wearing: Standard the Label cropped top, Zara pants, Asos sunglasses, Windsor & Smith boots
Photos by Adrian Jackson
Love you Mckenzie!
Love you too! <3 x