Make life feel longer: Be more spontaneous

Illustration of students talking in front of the campanile
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A couple of weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about his new decision to stop saying “no” to things. I thought it was so intriguing that a once seemingly introverted nerd had blossomed into this “Yes Man” character, throwing himself into every situation that presented itself. Upon further discussion, he told me that by doing spontaneous things, time moves slower. When we put ourselves in new situations, our brains become activated as we adjust to our surroundings, thus making time move slower. Honestly, I don’t know how accurate his idea is, but it seemed to make sense to me.

That week, by chance, I happened to spontaneously go to the beach, spontaneously meet this new “Yes Man” friend, spontaneously have lunch for my birthday and spontaneously travel to Joshua Tree with people I had met only four days before. It felt like the longest week of my life. Of course, that’s not true, but it seemed to prove my friend’s point. I was tired at the end of each day, not because I had worked out or was particularly active, but because I had gone out and done things that I don’t normally do — I was feeling the effects of mental exhaustion. Despite the tiredness I may have felt as someone who has spent most of their life being the cautious, sensible and pragmatic friend, I very much enjoyed the longest week of my life. 

Unbeknownst to this friend of mine, I too had also begun to spontaneously throw myself into situations that I wouldn’t normally say yes to. I did so because I began to hate how much I gave into fear, mostly fear of the unknown. Yes, a year ago, my passive life seemed so amazing; I looked and felt safer, more secure and maybe even happier. But I was unchallenged, and I stuck to the things and people I knew. This past year (despite my desperate attempt to hold on) ripped me away from everything I knew and everything that provided me comfort. Whether it was losing some of the closest people in my life or moving away from home, I was thrown into the place I had always feared most: the unknown. 

Since I really didn’t have anything stable to hold onto, everything became a spontaneous event in my life— everything was new to me. It was gut-wrenchingly terrifying, but I did it. I did it and I keep doing it again and again. My life may be a chaotic hodgepodge of events, but I’m undeniably satisfied with where I’m at. Surprisingly, doing spontaneous things has made me feel like I have more control over my life. I’m no longer surprised by out-of-pocket events, as I now throw myself at them rather than run from them. 

Whether it makes your life feel longer or not, consciously deciding to do spontaneous things has been one of the most helpful ways to make me feel not only more confident in my independence but also more sure of myself.

Contact Paloma Torres at [email protected].