I’ll be the first to admit I’m totally jealous of those sunshine-and-rainbows bloggers. You know the type: they post deliriously happy photos in their Lululemon attire holding an acai bowl from the latest trendy spot. Their captions read like peppy rip-offs of Eat Pray Love, and their lives seem utterly perfect. I can’t help but wish I was that effortlessly sure of myself. If anything, my time in Michigan has me more unsure. Maybe it’s going back home - that feeling of going backward in life. It feels as if all those accomplishments I made in LA and New York after college have suddenly disappeared and I’m left with this empty version of myself. I chose this, but I've also come to realize it's just not the home for me it used to be.
And then I remember the real Eat Pray Love, which has been a major source of inspiration for me since I first read the book (and yes, the film’s pretty good too!). The thing is, author Elizabeth Gilbert went through that experience in her early thirties, a time when most people seem to be settled down in life and who they are. Instead, Elizabeth went out and re-vamped her life in the pursuit of inspiration and happiness, and in doing so, found incredible success.
I’d love to feel like those bloggers who seem to have it all together, but the truth is that social media is a highlight reel, not a true reflection of everything we as humans are going through.
Despite my sarcasm, deep down I’m still a hopeful optimist, but where’s the humor in walking around posting “Ain’t life grand!” all the time. No! The point of comedy is to highlight the absurd, to take the craziness that life throws our way and turn it into something to laugh at. Yeah, going through less-than-ideal situations isn’t fun, but if you can find a way to turn it around and make lemonade out of lemons, by all means do what you gotta do.
That being said, you may be reading this and thinking to yourself 'Alright, Jill, but I’m not a comedian or writer'. Well, that’s where your inner traveler can come in to help you get through tough times. Comedy and writing are great outlets for me, but it’s not always enough. So lately, I’ve decided to let the explorer in me seek out activities and places around Michigan to lift my spirits. From art museums to trying hot yoga for the first time, I’ve found that discovering new places or taking time for things I already love has helped tremendously. A few weeks ago I saw some artwork from Andy Warhol at the Grand Rapids Art Museum and it was awesome!
This is what travel is all about: exploring new places, trying different things, meeting new people. Don’t get me wrong, visiting new cities and countries is fabulous, but you don’t always need to leave your own city to do these things. Find new exhibits to check out, attend a concert, find a cool trail to hike, try a new activity that’s totally out of your comfort zone. Another idea? Volunteer. Focusing on those less fortunate can put things in perspective. Plus, you can meet some really amazing people along the way.
When we feel stuck in life, it’s easy to retreat, to stay at home and binge out on Netflix, but don’t let your life pass you by in front of a screen. You don’t need to travel the world to find inspiration and joy, but you do have to make the effort to seek it out – and that’s exactly what I plan to do with my remaining time in Michigan. It's okay to feel sad, but the important thing is that we do something about it. And if we can't change our circumstances right away, at least we can make the most of the wait time by embracing our inner traveler.
The irony as I wrap up this blog post is that I feel like I’m starting to sound like the sunshine-and-rainbows bloggers, but in my defense, I’ve never once owned anything from Lululemon.
Coming up next: California!
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer, comedian, and television producer who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com