On Building The Ideal Life
As a newly minted college graduate, one has much to think about. As I sit perched on my parents' sofa, one month into my three-month hiatus, I feel impatient for the future to come, impatient for freedom. I am a bit nervous about what independence will entail, but I am so so excited and ready to embark on my adventure. I'm too much of a realist to fantasize about some perfect, idyllic existence amongst the lush greens of the Puget Sound, but I am a huge believer in taking the time to ready myself for this journey.
So over the past month, I've been doing a lot of thinking about how I wish to live, taking a look at my habits, and trying to build new ones that make me feel good, healthy, and strong. Here are my current thoughts and learnings!
I've become interested in meditation because of this amazing video by my favorite blogger and badass businesswoman, Mimi Ikonn. Meditation is supposed to help us observe and accept thoughts as they come and go. I've been trying out the app called Headspace, and find it to be very relaxing. Based on the past few sessions, I've become nothing but sure that meditation is good for my well being - but of course I have to build up the habit! And, if you're looking for a good book on habit-building, I highly recommend The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
All throughout high school and college I struggled with my weight and body image. I had so many moments where I wasn't taking care of myself. I would stay up late to finish problem sets, eat too much when there was food I liked, eat restrictively when I felt like I had gained weight. I would pick out good foods and bad foods, and actively avoid the bad ones until my willpower gave out.
However, in 2016, I made a goal with my friend to each run at total of 366 miles, one mile for every day of the year. While I ended 2016 thirty miles short of the goal, the more regular exercise routine I followed help shift many habits I had developed. I did not diet during senior year of college, but I naturally stopped overeating and became much better at reading my body's cues. I stopped differentiating between good and bad food. Instead, I tried to put healthy food on my plate, and allowed myself to have sweet treats if I felt like I had room in my appetite.
When 2017 rolled around, I knew I no longer had to work towards any 366 mile running goal - and I didn't want to do that again. Instead, I added in strength training to my routine. It enabled me to roll back on cardio and also feel stronger each day. Over the course of this journey, I've learned a bunch of lessons about health, exercise, and fitness:
- Routines change whenever your environment changes. You must adapt. For example, I no longer have a gym membership because I've graduated from college, and I'm currently at home, far enough from any gym that I know I wouldn't really go. These days I walk the streets of New York City instead, sometimes fifty or sixty blocks at a time. At home, I use my body weight as resistance in strength training instead of gym weights. When I get bored there are always more videos on Youtube! I might do a follow-up blog post on this.
- Build muscle! Don't be afraid of strength training. It's called strength training because it makes you feel stronger.
- Get good sleep. There have been many days when I've felt so hungry and have given in to cravings, and they've always been when I've had poor sleep. I think this is backed up by research.
- Don't put yourself on a diet. Instead, think of all the healthy foods you like - and try to fill your plate with those foods. Listen to your body. If you're full, you're probably less likely to reach for the cake! But if you really want cake, have a bit.
- Drink tons of water. I currently have three reusable water bottles I rotate in and out of the fridge (thank you college career fairs!) and whenever I forget to drink water, I can feel my skin drying up and my body getting sluggish.
I would say I'm an eternally struggling minimalist. I'm drawn by the beautiful objects of the world and also by the desire to leave it all and live without being tied down to one place. Even as I let of of objects in my possession, I acquire new ones. And of course, there is no inherent problem with this, it is a pretty natural cycle of human existence.
However, I'm one to pay close attention to the materiality of my environment, because it affects my mood so dramatically. When my space is full of clutter and contains things I don't need, my mind is hectic and my body cannot relax. When my space is clean and clutter free and filled with only the things I need, there's a sense of peace and belonging. My mind is clear and focused.
I'm very excited to move to Seattle because it will be a fresh start. By bringing only the items I absolutely need, I'll be able to build the peaceful, soothing environment I've always dreamed of. Stay tuned for a blog post about the move! In the meantime, a lot of helpful bloggers and Youtubers on the topic of minimalism:
I'm always on the lookout for new minimalists to learn from, since everyone's form of minimalism is a little different, so feel free to share in the comments below if there's a minimalist you follow in particular.
Even before graduation week rolled around, I was mentally preparing to be apart from my friends. There are so many lovely people I met over the years, those who've been with me the whole time as I've entered adulthood, ones who understand me and tolerate me like family, and many, many kindred spirits. Over the past month, I've missed them dearly, even the ones I've recently talked to or seen. These are people I've made a promise to myself to stay in touch with and to be there for in the big moments.
I'm prepared for all relationships to be ephemeral or to be long lasting, whatever path they may follow. It doesn't mean I won't fight for them, or be sad when some of them end, or still think of them, but grateful for what they were and what they meant to me in the course of their time.
Last year, I spent a couple of months where each day, I wrote down what I was grateful for that day on a little note pad I kept on my desk at school. During that time, I felt very happy and fulfilled. I'm not sure why I stopped doing it, probably due to my hectic schedule. Well, I hope to start up again! I've been texting myself daily gratitudes, but wonder if I would enjoy the paper version more than the digital method I've been using. I almost purchased The Five Minute Journal, before I hesitated and asked my aspiring-minimalist self to think a little harder. I'll report back on what I decide!
That's all I have to mention for now! I'm currently working on acquiring life skills such as driving and cooking, which I hope will ease the transition into adult life. In the meantime, you can follow along my journey on Instagram, which is updated on a more frequent basis. Thank you for listening, and please let me know your comments below!
* This post is not sponsored in any way.