Last year, when my mom embarked upon her “one little word” (OLW) journey, picking a word to focus on for the entire year in lieu of a new year’s resolution, I joined her with my own word: fearless. Realizing that many of my actions were governed by fear – fear of others’ perceptions, failure, discomfort, and risk, to name a few – I attempted to release myself of fear and do things I previously would have declined to do. I deem last year a success. I said yes to my roommate when she asked me if I wanted to help her start a magazine, and saw her project come to fruition. (Fortunately I have fearless friends who prod me unwittingly into fearlessness. On my own, I never would have summoned the courage to start a magazine, but Julie allowed me to dip my toes into her own spacious sea of bravery.) I started writing a story/novel/super-long-Word-document-that-may-never-turn-into-anything, which I abandoned for a while but returned to this week, pleasantly surprised by how much of the story I managed to develop despite my crippling fear of failure. Although I only wrote about thirty pages last year, and didn’t stick to my well-intentioned, disciplined plan to write every day, I am now picking the story up where I left off because even if it takes me forever to finish – or even if I don’t finish – I started something that I previously would never have started because of fear. (A quick note on that: What I love about the OLW versus a new year’s resolution is that you can give yourself much more grace.)
At the end of 2014, I went on a backpacking adventure with my uncle T.J. to South America (okay, technically this is cheating because the trip encroached on 2015). At the peak of my fearlessness, I climbed a volcano with an icepick. As I entered 2015, I found myself consciously deciding to be bolder, to do things that nudged me firmly out of my comfort zone and opened my eyes to the adventures awaiting me.
And that brings me to this year’s OLW: adventure.
Originally I thought my word should be “beginnings” because this year represents a year of beginnings for me. I said yes to my fiancé Jamie when he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him and we’ll be beginning our life together in June. I took a job in Columbus and I’ll be starting that in August. I’ll be moving away from my best friends in the world, but moving toward new possibilities.
But using “beginnings” as my OLW defeats the purpose of the OLW. It is supposed to be aspirational, something you can strive for and then see transformations, however small, in your life. And so I chose “adventure.”
“Adventure” is different from “beginnings” and also from “fearless,” although my latest OLW certainly relates to my former. Adventure, for me, means seeking out experiences. It means exposing yourself to the things of this world that awaken and invigorate you.
For me, it means taking every opportunity I can get to go somewhere rather than sit on the comfy black couch in my apartment where I’ve marked my territory with books and assorted outerwear. It means taking dance lessons and learning a new skill. It might mean running a 5k in a fun city with friends and new acquaintances instead of looping endlessly around the track at the Rec, bemoaning the leggings- and Uggs-clad girls who take up three lanes of the track for a leisurely chat. (But I’m not bitter.) It means getting rid of that pesky extra ski and learning to slalom this summer. It means piling into the car with my favorite person and going on a road trip when work or law school gets too overwhelming. It means checking out the Bourbon Trail in Kentucky or trying out snowboarding for the second time and hopefully improving or going on a hike when I’m tempted to lounge and pop in a movie. It might mean learning to cook (but probably not). Maybe my blogging fiend of a friend Christian Jaekle will involve me in one of his glorious adventures at http://www.christianjaekle.com (if you’re reading this Christian, then yes, that is a subtle plea…).
Adventuring can be a quiet discipline – you don’t have to fly halfway across the world. You simply have to train your mind to take the less comfortable option, the one that gets you off your feet and out on a quest.
So, cheers to 2015: the year of adventure.