It’s almost February, which means most of us have long since given up hope of accomplishing our New Year’s resolutions.
I’ve never been too fond of resolutions, anyway. The thought of making specific goals has always somehow scared me. So, this year, in lieu of even making New Year’s resolutions, I chose one word to describe what I want 2015 to mean to me when I reflect back on it later: explore.
Near the end of last year, I graduated and succeeded in acquiring my first decent job in the fabled “real world.” However, the question with which I've struggled ever since is, “Now what? Where do I go from here?”
Suddenly, the pace of my life slowed down greatly. For the past four years, I frantically struggled to study for exams, complete assignments and write essays in order to do well.
However, regardless of how hectic college life was, there was always a clear and simple path toward success.
The notion that defined this path was if you achieved high grades and did plenty of extracurricular activities, you could acquire a “good” job. But now, upon completing the predefined journey that was my undergraduate degree, I found myself wandering aimlessly in a sea of possibilities.
Of course, my job was new and exciting, so my work occupied a significant portion of my time. But, what about those precious non-working hours?
No longer did I have assignments to finish, clubs to attend or house parties to crash. Instead, like many others I know, I found myself listlessly wasting my valuable free time on Facebook, video games or binge-watching shows on Netflix.
Consequently, I felt guilty for being extremely unproductive, as I always thought of myself as a hard worker.
I even had a brief stint on the online dating scene, partly due to the conventional idea that now that I’d settled down and obtained a steady job, it was only natural to pursue a “serious” relationship.
But, eventually, I realized I was just going on dates to fill up my time, instead of genuinely wanting to meet someone. It took me quite a long time to realize my unhappiness stemmed not from a lack of social interaction, but rather, a lack of creative or intellectual activities in my non-work life.
That was last year.
This year, I’ve realized I need to figure out what works for me. Life is not a template you can simply fill in. What works for one person, or even a million people, is not guaranteed to work for you.
So, I’ve decided to spend this year exploring.
Of course, I don’t mean explore in the physical sense (though, traveling would be nice), but in an overall deeper way. I want to allocate more of my free time to pursuing activities I’m interested in, as opposed to doing pleasurable, yet shallow, activities like watching TV or playing video games.
This month, I’m attempting to do more new things than I did in the last few months combined, like starting to write another novel, developing a mobile app with a friend and joining a local squash club.
I’m fairly certain that deep down, we are all curious about exploring certain hobbies, and the hardest part is simply taking the initiative to deviate from your current routine to actually do it.
This is especially true when you transition from a school environment to working one. In fact, being outside of the typical academic environment made me realize how much we rely on others to motivate us; it’s easy to join a new club or team if your friends are doing it.
Nonetheless, an integral part of growing up is carving out your own path. While this may be difficult, as most of us have been told how to think for most of our lives, it does not mean you should not embrace opportunity.
Perhaps, the most valuable thing I’ve learned since graduating is life is too short to not be moving forward. Don’t remain stagnant for too long, and always be cognizant of where you’d like to go on your journey through life.
So, even if your New Year's resolutions did not work out, don't waste time worrying about it. We always have the option to explore and see what’s out there waiting for us.