Hi all! This month, the “Reader of the Month” section is jam packed with inspirational people; what better month than September to learn about all different people around the globe? If you want to stay updated on the past reader of the month or readers of the month featured thus far, click here.
The next reader of the month is Rafa van Oppen, an inspirational young man who drastically changed his way of thinking to find happiness in his life. You can check out his blog here! And read his article below to learn more about him!
Reader of the Month #3: Rafa van Oppen
I have changed my way of thinking 180º in some years. Some years ago I was unable to really make the best out of the experiences I lived. I always wanted to live “something more” than other people. A bit extra. A bit better. A bit crazier. I wanted to spice up my life to always have something to tell. Time was running out anyway, right?
I mean, think about it. This second. THIS ONE. The one that just passed. You will NEVER EVER live it again. This minute, this hour, today, this age, whatever. It´s once and it´s over. No re-spawn counter strike style. It´s over!
Back then I was horrified with all this. Time goes by, you can´t stop it, AND in any moment, BOOM, it´s over. Forever. It really stressed me out. I hated thinking that whatever I missed, I would miss, maybe, forever.
Of course this didn´t help me. It only made me envious of others who lived experiences I hadn’t, or stressed out when I missed something awesome because of choosing another plan. I wasn’t happy with the way things were going. I wasn´t a sad, misunderstood, suicidal young guy, but I wasn’t making the best of life. I was continuously stressed out with the idea of time passing by.
In the last years I have changed a whole deal! How did it start?
MY BEERASMUS in Germany.
During my Erasmus, or, a program for students in Europe who live abroad for a semester or two, I also met someone who has maybe triggered the biggest changes in my life yet. I started to see that what I was living was actually pretty epic because, wtf, I´m alive and healthy (Although, I was pretty fat. Too much Bier and Schnitzel!), I had friends and a great family, I was living/partying abroad, and doing many things I wanted to do.
And around that time, I read two books, The Monk who Sold his Ferrari and The Alchemist. The second one really dug deep in me and put me into the “Let´s make a huge life change here” mindset. The first one helped give me ideas of how to do it in a realistic way!
It wasn´t a one-day-to-another change. Not at all. Slow steps. Giving myself more time to relax and think about my life. I read books and watched movies that inspired me and put me in that “mood” for making decisions. And specially, I started to notice those “small things.” If you are always looking for the big epic things, like I did, you will miss all those little awesome things that make life great.
Step by step, I started to change. I put more effort into AEGEE, which gave me so many chances to do awesome things and talk to the most incredible people. I started to work on my will-power, which I´m sure is the main pillar for becoming a happy person. I started to care less of what people thought of me and started giving more credit to what I thought of myself. I started putting more time into the things I really wanted to do. I wrote a bucket-list and started to write once in a while about how I felt and how life was going. I finally started to try to be the guy I really wanted to be.
I decided to put more energy into finding things I might like, but I hadn´t tried out yet like meditation, blogging, travelling like I dreamed, playing an instrument, learning to cook, repairing clothes, pushing against buying more unnecessary shit, hitch-hiking, couch-surfing, random solidary acts in the streets, etc.
And, although some I haven´t achieved, I have tried all of them. I have really tried to do what I wanted to. I haven´t let shame or fear pull me down.
There are things in which I FAILED, but nothing that I would change. I´ve been a horrible student in the University, but I don´t regret it. I might not have known the people I met, lived what I lived, or written in this GREAT BLOG!! I smile when thinking of my past (except for when I remember some blurry images of last Saturday).
Some movies that have helped me to keep motivation up: Into the Wild (surprise, surprise hahah), Up, On the Road, Di que si, The Bucket List, and Fight club (Don’t be a copy of a copy of a copy).
Some books: Practical Ethics, The Life You Can Save, The 100 Thing Challenge, Do Travel Writers Go to Hell?, Indignaos!
Now, I consider myself tons better off than years ago. I´m living true to my ideas. I´m still not the hippy-van guy who lives traveling and inspiring others, but for the moment I´m going in the right direction. I´m not scared of new beginnings.
I guess it´s just a process everybody goes through until they find what kind of person they really want to be. It took me time, and it’s a continual learning process.
So, Tempus fugit, time flees. Yeah, true, but the journey is fucking awesome!