Have you ever had that “Is this it?” feeling? That, “Am I just destined to be doing this same job in the same place for my whole life?” kind of feeling?
That is a scary, scary way to feel, and I know that your first reaction is to freak out and plan how much money you could make from selling your belongings and/or what the weather is like in Marfa, Texas because it sure sounds nice and/or research what countries have a grad school program in something you’re interested in. *been there*
Those ideas aren’t terrible, of course, and I am all for doing crazy, big, spontaneous stuff (hello, moving across the country, basically broke). But you need to think about the source of your anxieties. There’s a decent chance you could just be craving a little more variety in your life and are simply feeling stuck as to where to find it. But if you’ve been viewing your city or town through the same lens for a while now, how can you start to think beyond all of that? How can you open your eyes to new restaurants, museums, or attractions in a place you’ve lived for a longer period of time?
Even if you’re on the road looking to connect with others in a different way, you can sometimes feel a little stuck. And even if you aren’t feeling this anxiety at such a high level, it’s still a great idea to throw something unexpected into the mix. Here are some of my favorite resources for trying something new and keeping life spicy:
* A location-specific events site
Utilize your interwebz and search for free or interesting things to do in your city. The top hit for “interesting things to do in San Francisco” is FunCheapSF, a site I use all the time to find awesome activities that won’t destroy my wallet. Another easy way to get this information is to simply ask around. I took a cab from the airport in Missoula to my hotel, and the driver told me that a lot of interesting activities could be found on Missoula Events. I had been in Missoula a total of 10 minutes, and getting that suggestion just took a bit of friendly conversation.
If you’re searching online, a few helpful search terms to look for with your location: local events, interesting things to do, cheap things to do, unique attractions…
Interested in the French language and culture? Wanting to join a knitting circle or book club? Hoping to see films with other movie nerds? MeetUp is a great reminder that there are weirdos out there like you who are into cool, rad stuff, and you would probably have a cool, rad time hanging out with them. My MeetUp experiences have all been fun — I’ve brushed up on my German skills this way, and met other new to SF folks when I was new to SF myself. And just remember, if you can’t find a group about what you’re looking to do, then you can create one!
ps MeetUp’s slogan is “Find your People.” Ugh, that’s too adorable.
* National or State Parks
Ah, nature. If you live close to a national or state park (or any park, really) you have the best way to recharge right at your fingertips. A weekend sleeping in a tent, eating baked beans and s’mores, and peeing in the woods is enough to shed some perspective on things, yeah? But seriously, get out in nature once in a while!
* Hiking trails
Finding and hiking an amazing new trail is always refreshing for me. Having some new surroundings and time to think to myself (or get to know someone better) is a kickass way to spend an afternoon. Look for some new hikes here.
If you live in a bustling city, though, urban hiking is also pretty awesome, too, and a perfect way to get more acquainted with neighborhoods you might not frequent as much. You can usually search for some urban hikes online and find a good route to take, although I tend to just wander and see where my feet end up taking me.
I’ve had many good things come into my life through way of Craigslist: apartments, roommates, best friends, furniture, and rideshares. I have not attended events on the CL “activities” page myself, but I have scoured through them before, and even posted an event once for a former workplace. I think the events on Craigslist have much smaller chances of being sketchville than, say, a missed connection or a curb alert in a dodgy part of town, but I’ll say it anyway: use good judgment!
* Friends of friends (of friends)
I’m the first to tell a new acquaintance, “Hello. I like you. We are friends now. Okay?” There is just no way that having more cool people in my life will hurt me. So as you meet cool peeps, ask them to introduce you to other cool peeps they might know. More than anything, it’s nice to have a network of people you can call on to join you from time to time. If you’re wanting to try something new and exciting but a little hesitant to do it alone, a friendly face can make all the difference!
You can find some pretty stellar deals on these sites, from a meal at a swanky restaurant to pottery and dance classes to weekend getaway packages. Also, on Groupon and Living Social, if you find a deal that you’d like to get and some other friends buy it as well, you could have your cost completely refunded through a shareable affiliate link. Pretty cool! Just make sure to do your research beforehand. Read the fine print and check any applicable reviews, if possible.
You can use Yelp in two ways. First of all, they do have an events page for you to check out interesting events going on near you. The other way is how I usually use it — to simply search for and discover a new place I’d like to check out. When I’m in the mood to work from a coffee shop, for instance, I will hop on Yelp, utilize filters (free wifi, open past 6pm, in the neighborhood I want, etc.), and voila! I’ve got a new destination for my workday.
Even if it’s just a few hours a month, volunteering is a wonderful way to help out a cause you believe in. My best suggestion is to think about what sort of field you’d want to be working in (animals, for example) and see what related companies or businesses in your area might have opportunities (the ASPCA, a no-kill vet and adoption agency, etc.). It doesn’t even have to be for a cause — volunteer with a community theater, an after-school tutoring program, or scout troop. Rely on word-of-mouth and a little online research to find something that interests you. Also, Idealist has a slew of non-profit volunteer opportunities listed from around the world.
What resources do you like to use to mix up your routine? Does your city or town have a helpful local event listing? What sorts of new things have you tried in your city, and what was the experience like?
Death to the Stock Photo