Spiritual Growth

On the pursuit of happiness: “embracing being fucked up” vs. “struggling to have your shit together”

The year I spent doing my master in Maastricht was pretty heavy on the ‘having fun’ aspect, to say the least. Whenever I was asked what I did in Maastricht I was tempted to answer with a quote from ‘American Beauty’, the scene where the narrator talks about the time he flipped burgers all summer long: “Actually, it was great. All I did was party and get laid.”

That about sums it up, that’s literally all I did. I would either shoot the shit with my housemates, or go out. Monday was Erasmus night, Tuesday Hip Hop party, Wednesday it was girls’ night out for sororities (and you definitely didn’t wanna miss that!), then came thirsty Thursday, Friday was date night and Saturday topped the week off. Although, to be honest, sometimes we even went out on Sunday night. You know, just for the hell of it. The one club that was open on Sundays didn’t get crowded till around 2 am, and even then it was mostly shady drug dealers, alcoholics and older women who were more accurately described as GILFs than MILFs. But we went there nonetheless, as a matter of principle. Partying was what we did.

Then the next day wouldn’t start until 2 pm. I would have breakfast with my housemates while watching trashy Dutch music channels (after the 100th time, you even enjoy listening to One Direction and Nicky Minaj!). From 4 to 6 pm I would work on university stuff, then do grocery shopping, have dinner with my housemates (usually the most unhealthy shit you can think of, either frozen pizza or pasta with cheese), watch a movie together, have a few beers and then head to the city, trying to find out what the night has to offer.

But when I handed in my master thesis in January, these fun times came to an end and I moved to Leipzig for six months to do an internship at a corporate finance agency. I knew I had to change my lifestyle quite drastically, but I saw it as a chance to shift my focus towards other areas of my life that I had been neglecting in Maastricht.

I started working out about five times a week, often waking up at 6 am to go to the gym before work; I ate healthier, paying attention to incorporate a lot of vegetables and fruits into my diet; I didn’t get internet at home so that I wouldn’t waste my evenings in front of the laptop; instead, I read a lot, everything from Bukowski to Bill Bryson, from Dostojewski to David Deida; also, I studied Swedish regularly to build a foundation for the time I move there.

So, in a lot of ways I was very productive the last couple of months, which was only possible because of the strictly structured daily routine I had. And yeah, of course it makes you feel kind of good when, after a long day at work, you come home, prepare a healthy meal, then study Swedish, read a good book and go to bed early so that you can hit the gym first thing in the morning. It made me feel like I had my shit together. But did it make me feel happy? Or would I have given all of that up for a night of hanging out with my housemates like I used to, watching “Buffy- the vampire slayer” together while making offensive sex jokes, then playing games of beer pong and later drunkenly wrapping the bus station in cling film and kicking the neighbor’s front yard bushes until the police shows up because of the noise disturbance? HELL YEAH!!

So I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing to keep some sort of balance in your daily routine. And you certainly want to cultivate hobbies that add value to your life. But at the same time, I think that people tend to over-structure their leisure time, trying to plan everything ahead and by doing that lose the ability to just enjoy the moment. So instead of beating themselves up about it, they should accept to be fucked up from time to time and learn to embrace it!

Published in Spiritual Growth

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