I’ve been in a perpetual state of ennui for months. Why? I come home after work to waste my free time on lesser habits, rather than pursuing things of interest. I want to go on adventures, learn to ride a motorcycle, pick up photography again, train in Krav Maga and maybe go sky diving. I’m doing none of it and that needs to change.
Are other 20-somethings in the same place? To connect and provide a springboard for reflection before Rosh Hashanah, I asked some friends three questions based on my current mindset. I didn’t ask what their biggest obstacles are or what they hope to do in 5779, just to check in with where they are now. Here’s what they said.
On a scale from boring to inspiring, how do you feel about your day-to-day life?
“Definitely not inspiring, but usually not boring. Any given day I could be excited about the things I’m doing. I took an improv class a few months ago and that made every Wednesday a treat. That said, I’ve also found a lot of satisfaction with days where I accomplish chores and do some self-care.”
“Closer to inspiring—I always wanted to work in music, so my day-to-day life consists of working my music job and going to a lot of concerts.”
“I feel inspired some days but not every day. I think that’s true for most people. I get inspiration from new experiences and meeting new people with new ideas, and that doesn’t happen every day.”
“Generally inspiring, disregarding the general lack of inspiration that accompanies sitting at a desk for 40 hours per week. Given that I don’t love being sedentary, I try to make sure I fill my after-work hours with activities that I’m genuinely excited about, and looking back on a day filled with activities, friends or good food makes me feel enormously satisfied.”
“Probably more on the ‘boring’ side of the scale! It’s really unfortunate that I don’t do too much because I could be working on my art projects, but I have a hard time getting motivated to do so. I do work with children, however, so I hope I’m at least making an impact on their ‘inspiring’ scales! I’d consider myself more ‘boring’ from day-to-day because I mostly just go to school, go to work and watch TV.”
“Super inspiring. Although at times I am very busy, I find fulfillment in what I do day-to-day and feel as though I’m using my time on this earth for good.”
“In the middle. I work in a school, so there are plenty of different circumstances that I must deal with and adapt to, which keep me on my toes. However, my life seems to revolve around my job, at some points making it difficult to participate in certain outings. During the week while others may have dinner plans or attend happy hours, I tend to just want to relax at home.”
“Pretty neutral. I would say that I’ve settled into a day-to-day routine, which is nice but not very exciting. I’m trying to find ways to make time for myself and carve out things in my spare time that excite me. The work my organization as a whole does can be inspiring, though, which is great.”
“Comfortable—so closer to boring than inspiring—because there’s a lot of repetition in my daily routine and I’m not doing anything that would be interesting to most other people.”
“Pretty much smack-dab in the middle. I think the threshold for what’s considered not boring is kind of warped nowadays. It’s so easy to see other people selectively filtering their lives to make it look more exciting than it is, when really so many of us will have a normal day of going to work, doing normal stuff, coming home, eating a not-too-fancy dinner and joking around watching TV with our roommates. And if you ask me, that’s a totally fine day; to ask for that much more on a day-to-day basis honestly just seems stressful and greedy.”
“Pretty inspiring, but it depends. I’m the type of person who follows my passion to infuse what I do with enthusiasm, but sometimes my days are pretty normal, which I think is important too. You need both to understand what’s exciting to you and what’s not!”
“Inspiring because I know what I’m interested in and there’s a lot to learn; I’m pursuing that.”
How do you define “living your best life”?
“Living your life in a way that you feel confident that you did what you needed to do to feel like you made the most of your day. It’s easy to imagine your best life as some flight of fancy, but I think if you truthfully are trying to live your best life, you will acknowledge that you are doing the best with your current circumstances.”
“A balance of work friends and fun. For me, personally, being able to work at a job I love while also having time for friends and things like traveling.”
“Having a balance between my social life, my work/school life and the time I have for just me. If one of these things consumes all of my time, the other aspects of my life get less attention.”
“Making the most out of each day and going after the things you want now, not tomorrow. Focusing less on what others think of you and expect from you and more on what you want in your life. For me, now, it means moving to Israel in three weeks instead of waiting years because there’s always an excuse to not do something.”
“Doing things and being with people who make me happy. For me, that includes pursuing and building my art career. I want to get back into it and remind myself how much I loved it. Art helps me express myself, get rid of any negativity and boost my self-esteem. I also would be living my best life if I’m surrounded by my family, friends and boyfriend. Life would be so lonely without them!”
“Giving it your all. I don’t think you measure that by material success though. Living your best life isn’t about winning something—it’s about knowing that you’ve given your best effort and left no stones unturned (that you didn’t want to).”
“Finding your passion and exploring/kindling it. You see the world for all its beauty because you have found it in yourself and can therefore see it in others. It’s spending time with the people you love and participating in all of the experiences life has to offer. Right now I feel as though I am traveling on a road to find my ‘best life.'”
“Being able to tackle and address all of the things you are passionate about in a way that doesn’t overexert yourself and still allows for time with friends and family.”
“A lot of meaningful connections, the perfect ratio of comfortable experiences to experiences that require vulnerability and a consistent feeling of self-accomplishment/self-growth.”
“It doesn’t include a specific set of ‘must have’ experiences. I consider it just being really in touch with your own self and your desires and what makes you happy, and living according to those principles and not anyone else’s. Being honest with yourself and realizing where your own happiness comes from despite the expectations of everyone else isn’t easy, and I occasionally have to remind myself that’s how I feel. But at the end of the day, if you’re living for your own happiness, then regardless of how you’re doing that, that’s your best life.”
“Feeling good with myself about what I do and who I am. When I feel essentially positive and confident about myself, then I find that all the other things that help make my life the best—my loved ones, work that excites me, activities that make me feel whole and happy—become part and parcel of that.”
“Being honest with yourself.”
What would you do, right now, if you could do anything?
“Take a year to travel the world. I’d start with the United States for a month before going international. I’d try to go to at least a few countries on every continent, and even go to Antarctica just to say I’ve been to every continent.”
“When I was a freshman I studied abroad in Dublin and I miss it every day! So I’d probably leave the office I’m sitting in right now and take a few weeks to just hang out in Ireland more.”
“Go visit the space station. Or maybe get a boat and find a tiny recently formed unknown island in the Pacific Ocean and name it. I want to see the island where Captain Cook left three sailors because they were starving and there were birds to eat and they refused to continue sailing.”
“I would run away and join the circus! I’m only half-joking…but I definitely wouldn’t be spending my days in an office 9-5. You’d find me somewhere warm and outdoors.”
“Create something every day. I know it’s my answer to every question, but making art is so therapeutic and I wish I could get lost in it again. If I could go anywhere though, I would definitely go to Disney World! It’s impossible to feel anything but warmth, love, fun and happiness there. I feel like I’ve been in a little bit of a rut and nothing cures that like taking a trip and getting inspired!”
“Every day I’d be sure to read and exercise all while traveling the world. There’s a lot out there and I know I’m only going to see a limited amount of it.”
“Face my fears in many arenas. Pursue relationships without the impending horror of negative consequences, travel to South Africa and, for those who truly know me, somehow end up on the sidelines with the Baltimore Ravens!”
“Travel the world to all the places on my bucket list, mainly Southeast Asia.”
“Alternating traveling around the U.S. visiting friends and family with traveling abroad. I would be in either New Zealand or Argentina.”
“Go on a motorcycle trip down the East Coast, taking the back roads and just enjoying some scenery and the feeling of the wind blowing through the padded jacket that I never get on a bike without. I know it sounds cheesy, but I’ve always kinda liked driving in any context, and the feeling of a wide open road that you have all to yourself is one of my favorite things in life.”
“Take my family and my best friends on a trip to my favorite place abroad. We’d eat good food, hang out and no one would be stressed!”
“Spear-fishing in the Indian Ocean—it seems amazing.”
To me, living your best life is about building your empire—challenging your thoughts, habits and excuses to find your truth (and becoming comfortable in silence to get there); rejecting the way you perceive the world to be; putting yourself before work, money, obligations and relationships; doing whatever you want for you and living on your own terms.
If I could do anything right now, I’d be riding a motorcycle on backroads all over the world, with nothing between me and adventure. So I’m going to get my motorcycle license in the fall. And while I can’t afford a bike or all the protective gear one needs to ride, I don’t care. I’m just excited to learn.
How do you define your best life, and what will you do to live it in 5779?