Back when I was living in Wicker Park, I would meet up with my friend Kandy, grab an iced coffee to go, hit up the local farmers market, and then sit in the park on one of her fun picnic blankets (yeah, Meandering Design!) to discuss the idea of doing the things that make you happy in order to lead a fulfilling life. Kandy always had loads of wisdom to impart, especially to people in their mid-to-upper 20s like myself who are trying to "figure it out." One of her nuggets of insight that resonated included her "hell yeah!" theory. When I would tell her about my weekends that consisted of going to a bar with friends or doing something that didn't interest me, she would say, "If someone asks you to do something and you don't say 'hell yeah!' in your head or out loud, then it's not something that is going to make you happy while you are actually doing it, so pass on the invite."
Because I am a "yes" person, so many times in my life I would agree to do what others wanted to do in order to make them happy (and thus sacrifice my own happiness). Now, because of Kandy, I'm getting better at living the "hell yeah!" theory. All my friends know that I will leave where ever we are by midnight. From past experiences I know that nothing good happens after midnight and it makes me tired and cranky in the morning. I'd much rather wake up early the next day and go for a bike ride than lay in bed miserable.
On Friday night, I picked up another good piece of advice from a friend, Dan. We weren't supposed to even cross paths again on my trip to Australia, but another friend who I am staying with in Sydney had to drop off her cousin in Canberra and asked if I wanted to tag along. Knowing that Dan lives in Canberra, I decided it was the perfect reason to meet up for a drink. I know Dan through his twin brother who works with the wife of the couple I stayed with in Melbourne. However, I connected with Dan more than his brother, Ben (you'll soon find out why).
While we sat on a pub patio on a warm summer night, we all started having a Christina Conversation. Essentially, these type of conversations involve deep thought, theories, good energy, and laughing. And for some reason or another, I try to start these conversations in bars where people just want to drink and have a good time versus contemplate how to make the world a better place. One time, I remember starting an intense conversation with some random guy at a bar and asked him what he was passionate about, etc. when my friend pulled me aside and gave me the "Really, Christina?!" talk. I get it. Sometimes my own passion smothers others' passions.
Anyway, all of us had a great talk on Friday night and Dan mentioned something that stuck. He said, "I would rather take chances in life and have the prospect of being truly happy than to settle for something less knowing that it will never bring me happiness." This quote is the exact reason for my trip to Australia! I knew that if I stayed in Chicago doing the same job that I would not be happy because I didn't feel like I was being true to myself. I wasn't sure what Australia would bring, but I knew that I had to try. Regardless, I knew that traveling would help me learn more about myself through learning more about other people.
I'm lucky to be in the company of so many people that add value to my life. My hope is that I do the same for them! The more I talk to extraordinary people, the more I want to be an extraordinary person. I mean, how can I settle for a less-than-amazing life when I know how truly wonderful it can be? I can't! That's why I vow to Never Settle for a Mediocre Life.