Growing up is tough — but if we weren’t always growing, we wouldn’t be alive. #Adulting is a monthly-ish column where I reflect on life, growth, and lessons learned.
A game of Taboo, while sitting in a coffee shop, waiting for a train to take us home:
“Okay, it’s your favourite thing in the world –”
“– that you can’t eat, but you consume them really rapidly.”
The answer was books.
I’ve been reading for as long as I can remember — before I was formally taught how. I remember piecing words together and guessing until I was right. I didn’t do this because anyone told me to, or wanted me to. I did it because I grew up surrounded by books, and I always wanted to find out what was in them for myself.
I love people — but I love words even more. And I love stories above all else.
Different people get passionate about different things. I was cleaning my glasses earlier today, and I remembered how the owner of the shop where I got them cautioned me to NEVER, EVER wipe them on anything but glasses-cleaning cloth. Every time I wipe them on my shirt, like everyone does, I remember his pained expression.
The owner of that shop is someone who loves eyeglasses. He scours the world for them and packs his shop with heaps of them, like something out of Harry Potter — he’s known to take one look at a customer and magically, instinctively know their perfect fit. To me, my glasses are just a functional everyday object. To someone like him, they are an art — a passion — a pursuit. I can appreciate his enthusiasm, and I can benefit from his expertise in frame-choosing, but I will never see what he sees.
As a side interest, I’m becoming a tea sommelier. The head of the tea program at the culinary school I go to is a man whose entire life is tea. He has an office filled with boxes and boxes of samples that he can’t possibly drink within his lifetime, and yet, he is constantly acquiring more. He can tell you ad hoc about origins, farming methods, history, folklore, flavours, preparation, oxidation, “tippiness,” and few dozen other details in every cup of tea he sips. He treks to remote farms and forests to see how it’s done for himself. When he crinkles his eyes and talks about tea, it’s with pure joy.
An acquaintance of mine, with a background in sustainable architecture, is always posting this hash-tagline: #dowhatyoulove, #lovewhatyoudo. She’s doing what she loves, and it takes her all around the world. Everywhere she goes, she learns.
So many people have found the thing, or things, they love, and gone on to do them. I used to see these people and feel this unhappy twinge. I think I knew, at that time, I wasn’t doing what I loved. I liked what I was doing, sure — but my heart wasn’t fully content. I wasn’t making time for what made me happiest.
Earlier this year, during National Poetry Month, I had the opportunity to perform one of my poems on the same stage as Toronto poet Rupi Kaur. It terrified me, but I took it.
It was one small thing that I had decided to do, but it was catalytic. It made me realize that I didn’t have to follow a prescribed path to do what I loved. The opportunities would come, or I would seek them out, or I would make them for myself. I just had to decide to do it, and then do it — and then keep doing it.
When you put the right words together, or put the right people together, you end up with a story. Lately, people have been asking me why I started blogging, or where I’m coming from with this project. Every answer comes back to this — this love of stories.
I’ve been through a lot of transitions in the last few months. There have been times when I’ve felt completely displaced — but when I sit down and write, something settles in me. Whether it’s public or something personal — whether it’s typing up an article or writing down a poem — whether it’s for a project or just sketching out ideas — setting aside time to write each day is something that has kept me grounded.
While planning out upcoming features and projects for this space, I’ve been connecting with interesting people and hearing their stories. I’m excited to share them. I’m excited to share my stories, too. I’m excited to share everything I love about my city, and the things I’ve learned in other cities outside my own comfort zone.
I think that might be the root of it — excitement. The things you really, truly love are the things that fill you with excitement.
Figure out what those things are for you, and do them. Make time for them. They don’t have to be your main pursuit, but you have to pursue them. You owe it to yourself to have that happiness — the specific kind of happiness you can only feel when you know you’re doing what you love, and loving what you do.