For just a minute, try to remember what it felt like to be five years old. The half-second lag at the top of the swings, the smell of fresh cut summer grass, the feeling of sand in every crevice of your swimsuit. As children, our sidewalk chalk drawings were Picasso’s and our bicycles were magic carpets. We colored the world with crayons, curiosity, and laughter.
Children possess a special kind of contagious optimism that carries them through their small lives. They are blissfully unfazed by the opinions of others. Through all the scraped knees and playground splinters, they continue to try new things and peak out at the world through a lens of joy. Their hearts are bigger, their blues are bluer, and their afternoons are longer. Can you remember how good it felt to be that full of wonder?
Many of us dream of making a big change one day. Whether we envision a career change, a relocation, or changing how we’ll spend our personal time, we imagine happier and more fulfilling futures for ourselves. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to feel connected to these imagined realities. We allow them to feel far off in the distance, safely tucked away under “someday.”
Too often, we de-prioritize our long-term goals and tell ourselves that we will make a change or learn a skill “when the time is right.” The actual tangible steps that need to be taken in order to create our desired fate take the back burner, and we allow ourselves to give into the comfort of staying put. Most often, telling ourselves that it’s just not the right time yet is how we grant ourselves permission to avoid taking risks. By allowing ourselves to believe that there will be a time when everything is perfectly aligned for us to make that life change, we ignore our intuition and neglect our happier, future selves.
Last year I had my first experience with Airbnb, an online community marketplace that lets you rent accommodations from local hosts in 190 different countries.
While studying abroad, I did some independent traveling and needed an inexpensive place to stay in Barcelona. I met Victoria through her listing on Airbnb, and two weeks later found myself sitting with her in her living room, sipping coffee, and speaking in broken Spanglish. Victoria taught me how to use her espresso machine, welcomed me to use her various bathroom products, and placed clean towels on top of my freshly made bed. I came and went as I pleased, sometimes inviting her along and sometimes just taking her spare key with me.
Here I was, a guest in a complete stranger’s home, with the key to every possession she owned in the pocket of my purse. This was a business transaction rooted in mutual respect, trust, and kindness. More than that, it was a business model that reflected the traditional characteristics of friendship, made possible by the amazing capabilities of the Internet.
In the past few years I’ve come to understand a new set of unspoken rules around how we socially interact with each other. As we navigate communication in the digital age, there are more channels to chose from than ever before, but ironically, the less you engage with someone you’re interested in, the more power you possess.
Sending a direct Snapchat to someone raises eyebrows. Liking an Instagram someone uploaded a week previously is unheard of. And when it comes to dating, we are to act aloof. Don’t text first. Don’t put too many emojis. Definitely, definitely don’t call. There is a strange power in silence.
It’s the game of “who cares less,” and how you win is to not engage.