I was standing in front of my closet the other day looking for something to wear for my exciting day trip to Stoke-on-Trent (yes, even Stoke is exciting for an expat. And as I found out in my pre-trip googling, it's one of the epicenters of British fine china; Wedgewood was founded and headquartered there. Who knew!) and out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of a hideously ugly dress that made me smile and then laugh hysterically.
The dress in question is extra-wide A-line with poofy white sleeves, faces of strangers covering the front and back, and has two large slits near the neck for a harness. Oh, and it's made of made of neoprene.
Now before you question my sanity -- or lifestyle choices -- for owning a dress that comes with a harness, let me hasten to explain that it was the dress I wore for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics.
The ugliness of that dress makes it all the more endearing, because from so much ugly came so much beauty: I became friends with three amazing creatives who were fellow volunteers, and am still close friends with them now (if you come to the Entreprenora event on 27 June you'll get to meet at least one of them in person, though we won't be wearing those dresses unless you ask, err... beg, really nicely!). And I got to be a part of a once-in-a-lifetime event in an up-close-and-personal way. I mean when else was I going to be in a world-class sports stadium rubbing elbows with world-class athletes?
Being a volunteer for the London 2012 opening and closing ceremonies was one of the best adventures of my life. And I spent that summer eating horrible boxed lunches (cheese sandwiches, Pringles, and Nature Valley bars EVERY DAY for two months) instead of doing the "smart" thing for my career, which would have been to get an internship with a top-tier consulting firm (I was an MBA student at the time).
But I didn't choose "smart" that summer, I consciously chose adventure. Because one of the guiding principles I try to live my life by is to always say yes to adventure.
Girls, life gets shorter each day, and as high-achievers with big ambitions, we can get so consumed with achieving and doing and growing and learning and accolade-collecting that sometimes we forget about fun. Sometimes we forget that we need work AND play (even when work already feels like play). And sometimes we forget that adventure can come around every day if we are open to seeing it.
I'm not advocating hedonism or the mindless pursuit of new-ness or throwing responsibility to the wind. What I am encouraging is that we at least consider saying yes the next time adventure comes by our door. It might come in the guise of a new business venture. Or a book idea. Or a trip to Nashville. Or a walk around that museum we pass everyday. Or confessing to someone how we truly feel about them (good or bad!). Or having a conversation with a total stranger who strikes us as interesting.
Going on an adventure isn't about bungee jumping and sky diving; it's about finding the thrilling aspects of the things we encounter every day and letting ourselves be thrilled by them. It's about (at least sometimes) choosing joy over ROI. About saying yes sometimes when we might otherwise have said no. And for me, it's also about living the type of life that will make my (as-yet-imaginary) biography something worth reading not just for what it will teach but for the physical, emotional, and mental ride it will take the readers on.
The sun is getting higher and that means I'm on borrowed time before our daughter wakes up, so I'll leave with you with something to consider: As you get fully into this weekend, and next week, and next month, and next year, what adventure will you say yes to? What adventure will you allow into your life that will stretch you, grow you, nurture you, or simply make you smile (then laugh!) when you look in your closet of life?
I'd love to hear all about it...