Canada, Europe, Travel & Adventure

Lessons From Living Abroad

How do we define true adulting?  Or does societal conditioning define it for us?  How often do you experience “la joie de vivre”?  These are things I reflected on, learned, and experienced while living with the French and travelling around the world.  I learned how to enjoy life on a new level and with less stuff!  I’m going to be honest — who says adulting can’t or isn’t fun?  Society? Media?  Your grandma?  Your neighbor?  The lady at the coffee shop?  Your best friend?  Your fake friends?  Where does that voice come from?  For me it came from listening to societal and religious conditioning for a number of years and not paying attention to what I was feeding myself through my eyes and ears.  Through the media and so much more, we’re constantly being sent messages.  But we get to choose which messages we take in and absorb as truth.  So about 6 years ago, I started reconsidering and reevaluating everything.  And it led me to a truth-seeking journey that changed my life in the best ways.  It wasn’t always easy, in fact it got harder at times, because I was letting go of old stories that were never mine, limiting beliefs that were most often never my beliefs, people’s opinions and voices that were never mine, cultural conditioning, and inaccurate conclusions I drew as a kid.  I had to unlearn so much and shed the layers of everything, and everyone, that I wasn’t.  And eventually, after being transformed and shedding old layers, I’ve enjoyed the core of who I am in most recent years.  It’s still a process, but I feel that today I live more authentically and and more in tune with my wants, needs, and desires than ever before.  I choose growth over consistency.  I choose my intuition and inner compass over practicality and “logic”.

IMG_2118We need play and fun in our lives as humans and we’re social creatures by nature. There are numerous studies on the importance of play and recreation for our health.  Work is essential and so is fun.  After college (and during college) I worked my ass off.  And I also had fun.  I spent a lot of time outdoors and traveling and socializing with friends.  It’s important to do that after college too and to remind ourselves it’s ok to have fun even in our day-to-day lives around our work schedules.  We don’t need permission to have fun either.

For 4+ years after college, I worked full-time (and more) back in my hometown.  I worked full-time, plus I did side jobs in the coffee industry and retail.  I’ve worked 60-80 hour weeks. Doing everything from corporate level business administration to managing events to executive assistance, and I even started my own events and personal assistance business.  I love work and I find pleasure in my work as well. But I also love to have fun!

Work hard, play hard is a great way to live.  But work doesn’t have to be what society says it is.  We can do what we love for work.  Who says you have to have a 9-5 job and all the things that media and culture show us is normal?I’ve always wanted something different.  That’s why I left to work and live abroad doing volunteer work exchanges, contract work, and living off of my savings I had built for my travels.

We get to create the life that we want for ourselves.

IMG_1524My seasons living and working abroad thus far have taught me so many things.  That it’s ok to have fun as an adult.  It’s ok to enjoy my food and my meals and people.  It’s ok to rest, to work less and play more, to work more productive hours, but less of them.  It’s ok to do work that I love, to enjoy my experiences, to live freely and openly, to socialize and experience life, to embrace my sexuality fully and without shame or apology, and it’s ok to go on as many adventures as my heart desires.  It’s ok to give ourselves permission to fully enjoy life and to allow ourselves to be fully happy.

Life is really one big adventure.  It’s ok to dance under a full moon on the beach with your friends just because.  (And it’s so much fun!!!)   It’s ok to enjoy everything and be grateful, to avoid negativity, to say a resounding YES to our life and to enjoy it.  Yes, it’s actually ok to enjoy life to the fullest!  La joie de vivre.  We can thank the French for that expression 😉

It’s ok to take a break and go for a hike.  We live in a busy culture — we’re driven by social media in this current day in age and it often influences how we socialize, but I think most people appreciate the simple things and getting back to the basics.  I think most people appreciate when we can be “unplugged” for a bit.  It allows us to recenter and be present and aware to ourselves and others.  The times without WiFi, rainy days, stormy nights when the electricity goes out and all you can do is play cards and games with your family and friends…… letters, phone calls, surprise visits, all of it.

One of my favorite things in France was going to cafes and there wouldn’t be internet, except on the weekends, or maybe not at all!  I learned how quickly I had the habit of being “plugged in” and then I was pleasantly surprised when I was instead talking to the person next to me and meeting friends at the most random places.

Social media and technology are amazing tools that I am SO grateful for.  I love the advantages of it, and I have to keep myself in check.  I love that social media keeps me connected to people around the world, and it’s a great tool for sharing and networking and so much more.  And I have found that if we’re too “connected” to the virtual world — we lose sight of the real world.  There has to be a balance.  At least for me. And I have met many who feel the same.

Yes, we have to pay the bills, yes we have to cook, and clean, and do our laundry. Yes we have to be human.  But adults, let’s not forget to take a break every once in a while, ok? Don’t forget to leave the dishes and be spontaneous and go on an adventure.  The dishes can always wait.  Moms–sometimes you just need a dang bath with candles and music… seriously, it’s ok to put YOU on the list too!  Wives– go out with your girlfriends for a girls night out!   Couples–find a babysitter, and make time for date nights in your life. It doesn’t have to be spending money — take a picnic to the park and go on an adventure!  Stay connected to your partner. Feed your soul and nourish your relationships.  And yes, nourish yourself!

We have to find the balance.  The balance between our busy lives and taking care of ourselves and finding fun and pleasure in our life experiences.  We can’t just work our way through lives. There has to be balance. We have to work to live, but not live to work.  I admire many cultures like Europe that are very focused on the life:work balance.  I most definitely learned healthy tips from living in Europe.

And single ladies?  Stop waiting for that Mr. Right……no man is going to fulfill you if you aren’t happy with yourself… have all you need to be healthy, happy, and whole. You don’t need anyone to complete you, you’ve got all you need within you.  When the time is right, you’ll meet the right person to adventure with in life.  Go on dates, have relationships, explore life with these people, enjoy your life and meet people, but don’t rush that process.  For now, single ladies?  Enjoy YOUR life.  Don’t fear being alone.  Get to know yourself. Find out what you like and don’t like.  Discover your authentic self, not who the world says you should be.  Go try new things, be brave and adventurous, and yes….HAVE FUN!!!!