Every now and then it’s a good thing to look back onto what happened to you and take note of life and everything in it. Maybe there are lessons to be learned or simply good memories to relive. And what better time than when the last bit of the date has just changed, right?
2014 was the year in which I travelled for several months on end for the first time. The year in which my only available worldly possessions were packed into one relatively small backpack for the first time. And it was the best thing ever. I cycled through the driest desert in the world and lost approximately 5 litres of sweat walking through the Amazon. I met people from all over the world having conversations in Dutch, French, English and a lot of broken Spanish.
It was the best thing ever.
Listen to your gut
A lot of people asked me why South America? Why do you want to trek through a continent you have never visited for almost half a year? Because I had a gut feeling that that was where I was supposed to go. And it did not disappoint. I think we should listen to that indefinable vague sensation of something being right (or wrong) more often. It’s usually right.
Talk to strangers
After being in welcoming and spontaneous South America for a while I had to get used to how cold we are. When you start talking to the person next to you at the bus stop in Belgium or London, they probably think you are a bit weird and that’s such a shame. Talking to strangers is so much fun and makes you realise everyone has a story worth listening to. It might not always be the most exciting thing in the world, but then again ten minutes of small talk isn’t much of a sacrifice in the grand scheme of things.
Queuing for something is almost never worth it
Seriously. Clubs, restaurants, whatever. Anything you have to queue for almost never lives up to the expectations. Don’t get fooled by hypes. (A lesson learned in recent months in London)
The things that make you the happiest can’t be bought in a shop
This sounds extremely corny and ready to put on some poorly designed e-card, but it’s true, real happiness can’t be found in material things. I haven’t been able to go shopping much in the past year because I basically spent all my money on travel and then decided to move to one of the most expensive cities in the world and you know what? I couldn’t care less. Getting lost in a book, walking through a London park in Autumn (God, I sound old) or whatever it is that you truly enjoy is worth infinitely more than that it-bag or all the other things that are supposed to make us feel fulfilled.
Don’t do things purely out of FOMO
I used to be the person who never wanted to go home. Just one more drink. After that song. Having a ridiculous social calendar out of fear to miss out. Don’t get me wrong, I still like a good boogie and yes, sometimes that ends when the sun is coming up, but when I don’t feel like it anymore, I go home. Doing things out of FOMO doesn’t make your life more fun, it makes it more full. After all, having fun under pressure isn’t really that fun, is it?
I am a Swiftie
Just putting it out there.
AND FOR 2015
Unlike most years my New Year’s resolutions aren’t lose 5kg or give up smoking or any other Bridget Jones’ Diary-esque aims. I’m relatively happy with the healthiness of my lifestyle and although there is certainly room for improvement (isn’t there always?) it’s not my main focus heading into the next 365 days.
If there’s one trait of mine that I’d like to change, it would be my attitude instead. With this I don’t mean my attitude towards other people, although kindness should always be your intention, but my attitude towards myself. 2014 was an extraordinary year, yet after the excitement of our travels I often found myself in a pit of self-created negativity. Thoughts like “I haven’t achieved anything” or “look everyone is further ahead” too often make me forget how good my life is in general. I want to learn to appreciate the positive more and brush off the negatives more easily.
Yes, I haven’t written a bestseller or bought a 5-bedroom mansion, but I’m 23 and that is fine.
And it will still be fine in 5 years.
In 2015 I want to grab the opportunities I can, do the things I love and simply enjoy the ride.
Bring it on.