Spend Your Free Time The Way You Like

Oh, this quote. I adore it.

large.jpgSome quotes you’ll stumble upon are cute and perfectly poised. Others are inspirational and give you a mood boost. This one has me writing a blog post to expand on it because I know it very very verrrry well and agree with it with all of my beating heart. And yes, I basically stayed home on New Years Eve this year aka went over to my friend McKenna’s house for rosé and lengthy life chats in our PJs.

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Susan Cain (woman behind the quote) is a writer, public speaker and podcaster specializing in introversion. Her TED talk in 2012 titled, “The Power of Introverts” is most definitely worthy of your next 19 minutes and four seconds no matter where you place yourself on the I/E spectrum.

I wouldn’t consider myself an introvert because I get energy off of being around others. Simultaneously, my mind is a riveting place to be so my most treasured awakening moments have come from thinking, reading and writing on my own. Myers Briggs tells me I’m a ENFJ. Let’s call it, ‘I thrive on quiet mornings and dancing in the kitchen and random conversations with strangers at the post office makes me content.’

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On to free time. In the past, I felt as if I was weekending “wrong”. Every time I would come home from college, my dad would ask me about the parties I go to. Well, those atmospheres make me feel more lonely than I do sitting at home by myself so my free time is spent otherwise. However, I still wished I could be a “typical college student” and have a fun time. For once, I wanted to go out and not feel guilty for all of the things running through my mind that I could be doing instead. I’m all about making new relationships all the time but it was seriously clear that I never felt like myself in those settings.

In the midst of those thoughts, I knew I needed women and men outside of those I share genes with by my side. I can’t expect to have friends other than my parents and siblings if I never leave the coziness of my home. My goal of marriage and motherhood will not unravel if I’m not going on dates. I won’t have much to put on my graduate school application if I am not volunteering and remaining active in the work that I’m passionate about.

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I’m taking a liking for research lately and came across a study about friendship published in the American Sociological Review. It’s titled the, “General Social Survey” but came to be known as, “The Loneliness Numbers.” In 1985, the research showed that Americans had three confidants that they could turn to for important matters. In 2004, that number lowered to two with 19% of the participants having no one to confide in. Concurrently, 53% had no close confidants outside of a spouse or family member(s).

Ouch. That makes me saddened to the extreme. But I really do get it because I know what it’s like to feel so isolated and disappointed by the world’s superficial expectations that you want to take life on by your single self. However, we were told to be people of community for a reason.

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It came about incredibly slowly and I cannot even track the shift but eventually, I made a decision to start doing what I actually wanted with my free time with the core intent to kick laziness away and start making every day an adventure. That came with the search for finding out what I love to do and a fair amount of the time, inviting people to experience it with me. Which spiraled into forming a flood of memories, deepening my self-awareness and distancing myself from comparison.

I would much rather road trip to a friend (she wrote a guest post a while ago!) and have her show me around her college town than use the weekend to catch up on sleep and other procedural to-do list items.

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I would much rather ride my bike by myself without any music over sitting in a car with people who listen to objectifying tunes on the top charts.

I would much rather make t-shirts with one of my best friends than go to a bar where my high-pitched voice cannot even be heard by the people I’m with.

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I would much rather create a social media calendar for the eating disorder treatment center that I volunteer at than knock out a series on Netflix.

I would much rather cook a colorful dinner for my siblings without a timer or recipe in sight over driving to get the takeout that we know too well.

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These preferences are not to say that I don’t do the latter parts from time to time. I attempt to live intuitively and am always taking my friends’ concepts of fun into account so my days always looking different. Like the picture above. I took these girls to the Fashion Meets Music Festival for my internship. Many of them liked the rap performances. I liked the hula hoop station. We both left so content!

Sometimes laundry, a documentary and a weird cocktail of apple cider vinegar, ginger, seltzer water and lime are all I want on a Friday night. I walk right past my favorite room in the house (the kitchen) and out the door to get a burger and fries if that’s what sounds satisfying. I find time at a bar with my high-pitched voice in tow to be occasionally enjoyable if I’m with people I love (and this stranger on the right who wanted to hop in the pic).

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I fill my days with what I like, not what I feel I’m supposed to do. I like listening to people dream, asking tough questions and watching the joy that a child brings into a room when nobody was smiling before his/her arrival. I also like how laughter comes about because the body literally cannot hold happiness inside. Watching the expanding and deflating rib cage of the person on the couch next to me is my favorite as well as taking myself out on coffee dates, doing nightly GNOTDs (good news of the day) with my former roommate and eating sushi on a rug with a pal and blankets.

Read. Cook. Run. Write a story. Only if that’s what you like. I wouldn’t recommend being an unadaptable brat about it but I also wouldn’t suggest taking what the world is handing you because it is the comfortable option.

Catch on fire with enthusiasm and people will come for miles to watch you burn. – John Wesley

The world needs you to catch on fire in your unique way. Discover what this enthusiasm looks like without outside suppositions and both your weekdays and weekends will start getting a lot more exciting. I promise you that!

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