Decluttering life.

A few weeks ago I decided to move from my hometown of Perth to Melbourne. There is now less than four weeks till I board a plane with my one way ticket and there’s never been a better time for me to go. I wanted a new challenge. I needed a change.

Relocating also means that I’m going to have to pack up my life into a suitcase – a very exciting prospect indeed. I love the idea of decluttering my life. It’s so easy to hold on to things just because they are there, without really thinking about what benefit, if any, they bring.

Over the years I’ve held on to a lot of stuff. Stuff that has been taking up space and serving no purpose. The other day I found a bunch of old high school text books stored under my bed. Why did I still have these? In case I got struck with the sudden desire to read up on the Foundations of Mathematics? Highly unlikely. They no longer served any purpose in my life. They had to go.

The same goes for clothes (so many clothes), random gifts you keep for so long that you don’t even remember who they were from anymore and, on a deeper level, insecurities, fears and even people.

Lately, my social feeds have been awash with quotes about outgrowing relationships and not having time for people who no longer benefit your life. They are right. We all change in different ways and there comes a point where you realise that certain relationships are causing you more stress than joy. I believe this can be said for both your relationships with other people and the one you have with yourself. We are each our own biggest critic and prioritising your own happiness is easier said than done.

Decluttering your wardrobe is easy. Decluttering your life is something entirely different.

But moving – moving gives you the chance to start fresh. It gives you the chance to choose what you take with you and what you leave behind. I’m going to take my strengths and try really hard to leave my doubts. I’m going to take the people who support and encourage me, who bring good vibes to my life. I will keep hold of these people even from thousands of miles away. And everything else? Well, I figure if it isn’t important enough to bring with me, I’m probably better off without it anyway.


It’s Never Too Late To Learn

A friend recently told me that, not more than two years ago, I said I didn’t care about learning things I didn’t have to know. I literally rejected learning unless I had to. I don’t remember this and could hardly believe I’d uttered those words, because I’ve changed.

Like everyone else, I’ve always been inquisitive about things that I am personally invested or interested in. I like knowing more about my personal hobbies, my favourite artists. But, apparently, I didn’t used to care about learning things that didn’t relate to me.

Looking back, I know this to be true. I didn’t take history in high school because I didn’t think I would need it later in life – a decision I have since regretted. I was wrong. It’s not that I need to know about history for my job or because I need to pass a written test, but because the test is everyday life. Knowing the dates and some details of historic events is valuable. I feel pretty silly admitting that, without Googling, I don’t know when WW2 ended. A giant, historic event and I don’t have a clue. This goes for learning about anything and everything, not just history. The more we know, the more interesting we become. The test is being able to participate in dinner party conversations; it’s finding common ground with someone at a networking function. The more you know, the better off you are.

Today, I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to learn new things. As I said, I’ve changed. Today, I am all about learning. We live in a time where you can find out anything about anything and you can do it on your phone. Isn’t that incredible? I am going through and watching Youtube crash courses on world history. I click the science posts that appear in my Facebook news feed. I want to talk to people who work in industries I know nothing about and gain just the slightest understanding. Everything is fascinating. There is so much to know. There is so much cool shit in the world to learn about. And the best part is, everyone is a teacher. Everyone knows something you don’t and has an experience you can learn from – we just have to ask the questions and be willing to listen.

There are always going to be some things I don’t care about and don’t care to learn about, and that’s fine. No one can know everything. But I have started to take my head out of the sand, expand my horizons, read the research paper rather than the gossip article and know that it’s never too late to learn something new.

Liz Gilbert: On Creativity and Fear

Last Saturday night I watched the ever-inspiring Liz Gilbert talk about creativity and fear. As part of the Perth Writers Festival, Gilbert spoke to a practically full house at the Perth Concert Hall – which was a testament to either how many people are interested in creativity, or how popular an author becomes once their book is turned into a movie. Hopefully it was a bit of both.

One thing to note about Gilbert is that, as well as being an acclaimed writer, she is a great public speaker. Granted, her success comes from story telling and this was not her first public talk (with two TED Talks to her name, among others), but the woman knows how to engage an audience. She knows how to give anecdotal advice. Her advice is the kind people seek out, rather than the annoying kind your great aunt gives you about how it’s time to settle down and find a man.

Gilbert spoke about how we shouldn’t strive to be fearless, for that is living without any sense of fear. And, let’s be honest – everyone is afraid. Afraid of not being good enough, smart enough, skinny enough, whatever enough. Instead, Gilbert’s advice is to acknowledge this fear, accept that it’s part of the journey but that it has to sit in the back seat; it can’t give directions, it can’t change the music and it certainly doesn’t get to drive.

Something else that came out of this talk was the idea that “done is better than good”. This one little line made me want to spring into action and just get on with everything. It also brought up two important issues; perfectionism and entitlement.

Gilbert’s idea that ‘perfectionism is just fear pretending to be fancy’ struck a chord. How many times has someone created something but never shown it to the world, for fear that it isn’t 100% perfect? How many people don’t even begin because they are convinced they won’t be good enough? We hide behind perfectionism when, in reality, we are just scared. We also often feel like we don’t deserve whatever we’re chasing (women especially). We lack any sense of entitlement. Entitlement doesn’t need to be arrogant; it is just the belief that you deserve to have what you want, and not to feel guilty for going after it.

I’ve just realised this blog, that was meant to be a review, has basically become a re-hash of what I heard. However, it was just so damn on point, interesting and important that I want to tell everyone about it. And isn’t that the sign of a good talk? One where you leave wanting to go forth and spread that same message far and wide?

Liz Gilbert’s talk resonated to the writer in me but it was also very relevant to everyday life. After all, it’s not just creatives who struggle with fear – we all do. The idea of over-coming that fear by acknowledging it, letting it be there but not in control and ultimately, just finishing what you started because while it may not be great, it will be good enough – these are ideas I hope to take with me and put into practice in all my future endeavours. It’s safe to say Liz got me thinking in all the right ways.

Break Ups Suck A Big Bag Of Dicks

The other day, I was feeling good and I was feeling funny and I started writing a list of all the reasons why being single is great. It included things such as ‘you don’t get a dead arm from spooning your pillow’. And then, roughly 3 hours later, I was a lonely mess, shouting back at my iPhone notes: Yeah, but a pillow doesn’t spoon you back, you stupid, insensitive notes! That’s basically been my life for the past 2 weeks.

See, break ups are hard. Even if you instigated it. Even if your partner was a jerk and you know you’re better off. Even if you knew it was coming. Even if you weren’t even really together. Break ups suck a big bag of dicks. They just do.

Break ups make you question your choices, your ability to be happy on your own and what the hell you used to do with all your spare time (seriously, you’ll need a new hobby). They push your insecurities to the forefront of your mind. They are not fun.

I’ve realised that my break ups tend to lack a fundamental feeling that normally helps people to move on. See, I’ve never been mad at my (ex) partner.  My break ups are clean and always end on good terms. Sure, this sounds great and for the most part, it is. On the other hand, it means that I can’t focus on turning my sadness into anger. Anger is a great way to get over someone; you stop missing them because you realise they weren’t a good person. I’ve never experienced that.

Instead, I date great guys who think I’m equally great… Just not great enough to stay with. Go figure. I can’t be mad at them because they didn’t really do anything wrong. It’s very confusing. I start to question why they didn’t want to stay, even if I know it had nothing to do with me. Oh hello, insecurities, you’re right on time! Please, come in and make yourself at home.

I honestly don’t know which is harder. Suffice to say, break ups suck.

The good news is (aside from that list about being single – more to come on that later) time really does cure all. The first few weeks are always the hardest. But it does get better. How do I know this? Well, I’ve been told I give quite good relationship advice and I’ve been telling myself this a lot recently, so it must be true. I guess only time will tell.

What Don’t You Want?

I am currently reading Amy Poehler’s book Yes Please. I believe that comedians/people who work in comedy are some of the smartest people, at least from a socially smart perspective. They observe, notice and comment on life in ways that make everyone else laugh because they are so damn true and you had never really thought about it until they said it.

So, it isn’t surprising that Amy has little golden bits of insight and advice and that some of this has ended up in her book. I’m not going to list out all the great things Amy has said, suffice to say it includes such gems as Great people do things before they’re ready. They do things before they know they can do it” (which is brilliant yet terrifying advice that everyone should remember). What I am going to do is talk about something she wrote that has stuck with me;

“I think we should stop asking people in their 20s what they “want to do” and start asking them what they don’t want to do. Instead of asking students to ‘declare their major’ we should ask students to ‘list what they will do anything to avoid’. It just makes a lot more sense.”

When I read this, I laughed because it was so damn true and I had never really thought about it. In fact, I’ve given so little thought to what would be on my list of ‘what I will do anything to avoid’ that when I read those words, I was stumped. I stopped reading and started thinking.

Why had I never put any real thought into what I don’t want? When I am smack bang in the middle of my 20’s, a time notorious for figuring out what you’re doing with your life, I never stopped to consider tackling it from the opposite angle. Knowing what you want is hard. Truthfully, there are a lot of opportunities and things I would be happy to do, so of course it’s hard to know what I really want to do – my dream job might not even exist yet! But if I know what I want to avoid, then surely the path to getting where I’m meant to be will be easier, with less unwanted pit stops on the way.

I imagine a lot of these lists include “not settling in one place”, “no 9-5 office role” and “don’t want to work for somebody else” but none of those things would crack my list. The things I want to avoid at all costs might be a bit more subtle, I don’t know – I’m still working on it. But that’s the best part – I am working on it! This was a new idea to me, a new way of thinking and something to try to learn from. And no matter who you are, I really believe one of the best things you can do in life is to keep on learning. So thanks, Amy, for your words of wisdom that have taught me to look at life from a different angle. What more could you want from a book?