Thank you to Zappos x Merrell for inspiring + sponsoring this post. All opinions are my own.
I’m 29 years old and I’ve never felt this free in my entire life. I am passionate about my work, there is now a fire inside of me to move and create. I feel the least lazy I’ve been in years and I feel purpose in what I am doing. I am growing, moving and shaping myself into the person I am hoping to become. But most importantly, I am learning to love and respect myself more every single day.
I am trying to live my best life – striving to become the best version of myself that I can be. And it does not come easily. I’m working 14-hour days in a random hostel in Portugal, editing photographs on a plane, finishing my first photo book in someone else’s apartment. My friend always tells me that I live my life like I’m riding a motorcycle without a helmet on. But it makes waking up every single day absolutely worth it.
I flew back from Portugal and flew straight to Tulum, Mexico with three of my best friends. And I only took flip flops and my new pair of Merrell’s.
And these last few days exploring this beautiful place got me thinking about all of the things I have to be grateful for, and what I’ve learned while on this unexpected journey of self-discovery and the pursuit of happiness.
“Every now and again, you will feel a dull ache in your soul. A gentle humming around your heart. A longing for something without a name. If I ever told you to obey anything, this would be it.
Listen to the call of your authentic self. That part of you that lives just outside of your own skin. Let it have its way with you.
I have died a hundred times trying to ignore it.”
1. Live for yourself.
Who will you need to answer to thirty years from now, when you look in the mirror with a face full of regret, wishing you had pursued the things that your soul craved?
No one else but you.
Yes, we all have responsibilities, and society has told us that being “responsible” is ___________________. But what about responsibility for our happiness? Taking care of ourselves? Doing what makes us feel free?
You don’t have to be held back anymore.
I was always wishing and wondering, self-conscious about how my life was turning out. I don’t have an apartment, I don’t have a boyfriend, I am still viewed by so many people as ‘floating’ or ‘irresponsible’ or ‘unstable.’
But I’m not living for anyone anymore. Because I know that one day, I will look back at my life and know that I did what made me truly happy. And there will be no regret.
“There’s so much more to life than finding someone who will want you, or being sad over someone who doesn’t. There’s a lot of wonderful time to be spent discovering yourself without hoping someone will fall in love with you along the way, and it doesn’t need to be painful or empty. You need to fill yourself up with love. Not anyone else. Become a whole being on your own. Go on adventures, fall asleep in the woods with friends, wander around the city at night, sit in a coffee shop on your own, write on bathroom stalls, leave notes in library books, dress up for yourself, give to others, smile a lot. Do all things with love, but don’t romanticize life like you can’t survive without it. Live for yourself and be happy on your own. It isn’t any less beautiful, I promise.” -Emery Allen
I hope that you will start doing things for yourself, and view self-care as an asset to everyone else around you. It’s not only going to make you happier, stronger, and more motivated — it’s going to inspire those around you to do the same.
2. Explore, as much as you can, for as long as you can.
I can promise you this – if you wake up in the same place, around the same people, doing the same things every single day for years – nothing will change.
I knew that I needed to get out of my environment, stare at a map, pick a new place – and get there. Three years later, I’m still traveling around the world as much as I can before I settle down to find my next home.
Exploring the world is what energizes me, inspires my work and motivates me to continue to live my best life.
I got them delivered before my flight to Mexico, with fast and free shipping + returns from my friends over at Zappos.
Get up and go explore as much as you can of this big, beautiful world. It changes your perspective, and allows you to see things with a new set of eyes. If you can’t travel to distant places, go try a new route on your way to work, or attend a social event you normally wouldn’t think to attend. The point is — do something different. Switch it all up just for one day, and continue to be fearless in your pursuit of adventure.
3. Stop comparing yourself to other people.
Focus on what you’ve accomplished, not what you think you haven’t. Ignore what everyone else is doing and achieving. Your life is about breaking your own limits and outgrowing yourself to live your best life. You are not in competition with anyone else. Outdo your past, not other people. You are on your own journey. You are on your own timeline. No one else is you, and that is your power.
I’ve also realized that people will treat you however you treat yourself. When I am confident, I am adored. When I feel insecure and anxious, I am abandoned. But that’s the thing, if it’s all up to me – why the hell have I been so worried about how I’m perceived by others? I am learning to be kinder to myself everyday, to stop poking myself and wondering why I look the way I do, prodding at my insecurities constantly, questioning the lifestyle I have chosen to live – because none of this is healthy or getting me closer to my goals. Tell yourself over and over again that you are worthy. Worthy of success. Worthy of happiness. Worthy of love. You are absolutely worthy of anything and everything good in this world, and the more you act like it, the more that good will come to you.
4. Let. Go.
It’s time for you to surrender to everything that is weighing you down, and then let it all go.
I have had to walk away from so many people and situations that did not serve me. It was difficult, heartbreaking at times but every single time was worth it.
Why? Because it forced me to change myself, invest in myself and grow. Sometimes, growth is painful. But do you want to stay the same for your whole life? Greatness comes when you shift.
So I’m talking about the guy you don’t think you should be with anymore, or the job that you think you shouldn’t stay at anymore, the friends that keep putting you down, and make you feel worse than you had before.
Let all of that weight go. Anything that holds you back should not be a part of your everyday life. Take space from these people to make room for others that uplift you, support you and genuinely want to see you thrive. It’s not going to be easy, after all – it is a change, and change is difficult. But if you truly want to become your best self, you will need to learn how to walk away from the things that do not serve you.
5. Look in the mirror.
No one is perfect. You could have all of your ducks in a row when it comes to your job, or your relationships, or your family life. But there is always something that we’re going to have to work on. Whenever things went wrong in my life, I found it easier to blame my problems on external things — outside situations or people. But when something difficult does arise, it is an opportunity to look within yourself — especially if recurring events seem to come back over and over again.
Self-awareness is a life long journey, so it is one that will take time. But it is also a journey that will illuminate every single aspect of your life. It is one of the most selfless things we can do for others as well. Many people don’t look in the mirror and try to see what it is they are doing to contribute to the events that happen in their lives.
It’s silly to think that we don’t play any kind of role in our realities. You are the captain of your ship. You are the master of your fate. And because we’re not perfect, there will always be something we can work on, for ourselves and for others.
Make a commitment to see yourself for who you truly are, behind the mask that you may put on for others. Is your ego talking, or are you being open and honest with everyone around you? You can actively make choices to better yourself. When you self-reflect, you’ll see the impact that it has on people around you.
What you need to know about the past is that no matter what has happened, it has all worked together to bring you to this very moment. And this is the moment you can choose to make everything new. Right now.
Give yourself permission to live a big life. Step into who you are meant to be. Stop playing small. You’re meant for greater things.
Thank you for reading this post. All photographs were taken on location in Tulum, Mexico.
Follow me on instagram here: @projectinspo. And grab yourself a pair of these Merrell’s here, with fast and free shipping + returns from my friends over at Zappos.