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Category: Lifestyle

Reflecting on Moving Out

A year ago, I moved out of the house I was raised in into a tiny decent sized apartment with another girl to go to university. We live above the funniest bar, so it is never boring (or quiet, for that matter).  I had mixed feelings about the move, but I instantly loved it. Being completely independent is a feeling I wouldn’t want to miss anymore and I found that mundane things are easily incorporated into my schedule. I have learned a couple of lessons in the last year, five of which I want to share today.

  1. Just do the dishes

Do your dishes right away (or within a reasonable amount of time) because you deserve to have a clean sink. You might not want to do them right now, but your motivation is not going to get any bigger and you will hate yourself if you have to come home to a sink full of dirty dishes. Regard it as a treat to your future self that you are doing them now.

  1. How to be an adult

Sometimes (more often than you like) adult stuff will creep up on you that you suddenly have to deal with. Afternoons will be spent on the phone talking to the bank, or insurance, or landlords, or university staff. The list goes on. Even though they are not the most pleasant things to deal with, they are responsibilities that come along with the newly introduced independence. Therefore they are good things. And that feeling after successfully dealing with them – priceless.

  1. Find a roommate that is on your side

I got extremely lucky with an amazing roommate, one that I look up to like a big sister. It is so great to live with someone that you like, someone who will listen to you moan but someone who will also leave you alone when you want to be left alone. It’s intimate to live with someone else, after all you see them at their best and at their worst. I found it important to be open minded, guaranteeing that you will always find a way to make it work.

  1. Leave the apartment at least once a day

I’m an introvert, I use downtime to recharge my batteries. I have days where I don’t have any plans and therefore no reason to leave the apartment. Yet I have learned that it is important for me to get out regularly. Otherwise, I’m more likely to spiral downward into feeling bad about myself. So I make sure I take a walk, go shopping or take my bike for a spin at least once a day to keep my mind at Zen.

  1. Landlords are also just people.

This one is probably just relevant for me.

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Small talk.

 

I hate small talk. Really. If you ask any of my close friends, they will agree. They know this about me. I don’t like the pretentious smiles and introductions. The meaningless information you share with strangers don’t make any sense to me.

But we all live in a society that values small talk. We are surrounded by strangers and if we want to get into contact with them, we need to suffer through the small talk and get to know them. At least that’s how I though it works. But I am starting to see that there is more to these first conversations than I thought. There are most certainly what you make of them. I think I have learned a few things talking to strangers. First of all, burst through that barrier. Go out and talk to people. It sounds so difficult, trust me I know. But it helps. Don’t be scared, because what could happen? They won’t talk to you? Well, they are not talking to you right now, so there’s that. And make the conversation meaningful. Be present and ask questions that actually matter. Go into detail and be specific. Nobody likes talking about the weather so be a little more creative. Be generous, be kind. Listen to understand, don’t listen to talk.

Just try it. Believe me, as an introvert, it is draining for me to go out and talk to people. But I learn and I grow from each conversation and I am a little prouder afterwards. Be aware of your environment and take the little chances the day gives you.

Because small talks are actually doors. They can let you in and share with you anything or nothing. It is all up to us. So leave your door open from time to time.

 

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House of Cards

I picture every relationship as a house of cards. We build them on a foundation – a mutual feeling or interest. And then we build further on that – layer by layer the relationship evolves. With some relationships, we will eventually add the last layer. The relationship reaches it’s best before date, and we move on to build new houses. I’ve learned that not every person is meant to be in your life forever, we grow up and change, all that crap. That’s okay –  sometimes it is even good. Or necessary.

What I like about the house of card analogy is the fact that it could collapse at any moment in time. It’s two people building the house of cards – one mistake could ruin everything. Have you ever looked at someone and thought ‘there are things I could say right now that could completely ruin this‘? “I cheated on you” or “I don’t love you anymore” will do the trick with a significant other. “I’ve murdered someone” to a friend or “I copied  someone else’s work” to your favorite professor sure changes things. I consider these big things – like wrecking balls that will ruin almost every relationship.

But it’s fairly easy to avoid most wrecking balls – what I am more scared of are the houses of cards that collapse at the slightest blow, even though you were confident they would last forever. You didn’t realize at the time that too many cards were crooked or uneven. Somehow it all worked and you could still build on them – to a point. You couldn’t tell it was all doomed. You can’t pinpoint your finger on what it was that made it all fall down. Maybe it was not meant to be. Those are the relationships that haunt me the longest.

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Being home.

What does being home mean to you? What is home? I know that a lot of people connect home to a physical location. A home town. The house they grew up in and spend most of their life time living in. Maybe it’s that little apartment you can barely afford but for the first time in your life you can live by your rules and be independent. Maybe it’s the city you know best, where every street looks familiar and the neighbors greet you when you pass them. Maybe it’s a country where everyone speaks your language, where the food tastes and smells the best to you.

To be honest, I have trouble with the concept of home. It makes me feel a little uneasy, as if there is something missing. Because I don’t have a clear cut definition for it. What if you move around so much that there is not one specific location to call home? What if there are several houses you remember from your childhood? What if you have not spend more than two years in the same city in the last ten years? What if there are so little constants in your life? I think this is when things get interesting. Because you start defining home again and again. At least I feel the need to define home to myself over and over again. Oftentimes I noticed that home can be anywhere as long as there are people that you love and that love you. Your family and your friends that give you the feeling of belonging. But there is still something missing in that concept. What if family is everywhere, what if your friends are not one collective but individuals living all around the world?

So what is being home to me? It is the bed that I sleep in, it’s the calming, familiar smell when I unlock the front door. It’s the place where I know exactly where everything belongs. It is where I drive home to after a long day of work. It is where I hang up pictures on the wall. It is wherever I feel like I need to be right now. That opens up the concept of just one place in my mind. It helps me understand that home can be anywhere and everywhere. It is a feeling of peace and calm, of knowing that you are safe. It is not one singular place.

After moving around so much, I can finally say: Welcome homes. And I hope you can too.

Home

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The uke and your inner voice: Practice – listen – love

I have this tendency to make decisions in my life based on my gut feeling. Yes, I am a rational human being and strategic deliberations are an important part of my decision making process – but oftentimes it boils down to the emotional choice I tend to make. Decisions on where to live, which career path to choose, what people to surround myself with, can be approached rationally but in the end, when all the facts have been considered, I do tend to choose what “feels right”. And guess what? That’s a good thing.

Your gut feeling

But there is a difference between the gut feeling and what I like to call the inner voice. Now, I am not saying that the inner voice is a new concept, but I do think there are many different opinions and definitions out there. The gut feeling might tell you instantly what seems to be the easy way out, the most convenient choice, the path of least resistance. It’s the voice that you will most likely want to listen to, the easy choice. It’s the voice that tells you to stay in after a long day at work, it’s the decision for the safe side. The gut feeling focuses on short-term gain. But your inner voice works differently. The inner voice has your own best interest at heart. It considers all the options, checks in with the parts of your mind you do not necessarily consider at times. The inner voice decides on, yes, what will help you in the short-term, but also asks how this can further your horizon and benefit you in the long-run. The inner voice challenges us, makes us reconsider. It sometimes even chooses the impossible.

Now, I am not saying the gut feeling is wrong. The gut feeling is necessary, crucial in life, it’s the instinct, the weird undefined feeling you get when you first meet someone and you just know that there is something off about this person which later turns out to be true. Listen to this gut feeling. But let your inner voice make the decision on how to precede when interacting with this person.

The inner voice is us.

And you know what the best part of this is? The inner voice is already there, it’s you. It’s me. It is not a schizophrenic part in all of us, telling us what to do. It can’t be reprogrammed and manipulated by an outside machine. The inner voice is the sum of the emotional, the rational, the sceptic in us, and the many different unique parts inside that make us individuals. But as with almost everything in life, the inner voice does not come easily, it wants to be trained. The inner voice can be quiet and reluctant to act. But deep inside, the more we listen, to more we are honest with ourselves, the better we can hear it.

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Playing ukulele and listening to my inner voice

Playing the ukulele has surprisingly taught me a lot about listening to my inner voice. Practicing every day and playing that same horrendous finger picking part I just can’t seem to get right, can be very frustrating. With the uke I can immediately hear when there has been a mistake. I can adjust, improve, practice again and make it better. There is a lot of truth in that for my life outside of music as well. Being able to improve, to really start to listen to what I play, how I interpret a song, what feels right and what sounds wrong, has been translated into my life. Long-term success can only be achieved through. Truly loving the music, truly loving my life – it is achieved when listening really close. To the uke, to the inner voice. Finding that melody, the harmony in music, has shown my inner voice that there is not only one way to play, not only one way to decide. But there is my way of playing – a certain decision I have to make for myself. There are things in my life that will support me and help me face challenges ahead. In music, that is my cute little concert ukulele. For my life and any decisions on where my life is going, it’s the little thing called: my inner voice.

Much love, Maria

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