I met Adele* whilst she was beating a bug out of her system in Sucre, stole her friend when she left for Cochabamba and met back up with her in La Paz for some partying. Like me, she’d left behind her entire life to throw caution to the wind and see what life and travelling had to offer.
Unlike me, though, she was having a little panic about her upcoming birthday. And she wasn’t the first person I’d met who was worrying about the big 3-0.
For me, being 30 has been an incredible year, a real rollercoaster of emotions and experiences that have let me reconnect with what matters to me. My philosophy is that every year I get older, the happier I get.
How so? I am more comfortable in myself, I know myself better, I’m more confident to say no to things, I’m more open to life.
And I care a whole lot less about what people think about me. Too much of my life I’ve tried to adapt to be how I think other people want me to be; so much effort gone into appeasing others and losing myself into a falsity. So yeah, I’m not scared. Bring on the ageing process.
But! Not at the expense of immaturity and silliness!
Travelling has taught me to reconnect a bit with my inner child. Not necessarily in some intense hippy way but more just reminding me: don’t take things too seriously.
During my travels in the last year I’ve helped out and hung out with toddlers in Sucre, volunteered at a school literacy fair, stayed with a young family in Australia, taken bus journeys with teenagers in Bolivia and sat in amongst a smiley school group on their way to Galapagos. These are some of the times where kids have reminded me how to live. Untouched by the trials and tribulations of life, they cut through all of the bulls***t and live life openly and honestly.
When you feel some adult heaviness creeping in, I invite you to try one or more of the following:
- When with a group of friends, chatter and giggle and whatever you do, don’t stop. Occasionally stick out your tongue or pull the other person’s hair or ear. They won’t be annoyed (if they too are subscribing to this childish therapy, or are indeed a child).
- Lie on the floor and just stare at the ceiling. Maybe hum to yourself, if you feel like it.
- Be affectionate with friends. If you like someone, hold hands and cuddle them. Simple.
- When you get up off the floor, put your hands in front of you, lean a little forward and lift your bum up first. Your hands and feet should both stay in contact with the ground. This doubles up as yoga practise.
- Put on some silly music and dance around, flailing your arms, bouncing on your legs, waving your hands and shaking your head. Don’t think about it, just feel it and let go. Completely.
- When on public transport, really enjoy it. Whoop and scream if you hit a turbulent spot in an airplane. Similarly, when taking off and landing, let your excitement spill out. Verbally and physically. When on a bus, clamber over the person next to you to look out of the window at the moon. Be fascinated by the little streaks of water slithering across the pane and follow them with your fingers, leaving smudges on the glass.
- Smell everything, including the clouds and sky. When people ask you what it actually smells like, come up with something obscure or silly. ‘Poo’ normally hits the mark.
- Stamp your feet and stick out your lip when you’re annoyed. Forget why you stamped your feet when you’re easily distracted by a passing airplane.
- Run to the window and wave frantically at airplanes.
- Be brutally honest. If, for example, someone makes silly voices in an effort to make you laugh, just go for it and say ‘Finola, you’re really funny… and weird’.
- If you don’t get your own way, lie face down and bash the floor with clenched fists. Check someone is watching you and if not, move to a spot and repeat where someone can take note.
- Blow raspberries and pull silly faces. At strangers is usually more fun.
- Finally, melt an adult with tired openness and affection. ‘Nola?’ ‘Yep?’ ‘Nola, I love you’.
*name changed to protect identity