When is the last time you did something for the first time?

“When is the last time you did something for the first time?”

I was recently asked this question, which quite honestly caught me off guard. What a damn good question! In fact, it quite possibly might be my new favorite question. Luckily for me, when I was asked that question, my answer was: “Today.”

When I was asked this question, I was at the starting line of the “Tough Mudder Half” mud run. I have recently gotten back into a fitness routine, after a self-imposed hiatus that lasted much longer than I had originally intended. Somehow, a few of my friends talked me into signing up for this 5.4 mile trek through obstacles and mud- with some running in between! Even during my most athletic days, I never participated in any sort of formal race or marathon, and I honestly was not too excited about what I had gotten myself into.

The run’s own Facebook page boasts the following: “Designed to drag you out of your comfort zone… So challenge yourself… Escape the Ordinary.” Inspiring, while simultaneously daunting. However, all of 2017 has been a living testament of me being pulled out of my comfort zone (admittedly sometimes kicking and screaming), and this seemed like yet another perfect opportunity to try something new. So I did.

At the starting line, the event coordinator gave a little pep talk and his opening line was “When is the last time you did something for the first time?” Then he asked “How many of you are running this as a first-time Mudder today?” I raised my hand, along with dozens of others standing all around me. He made direct eye contact with me, took a step toward me, and fist bumped me to wish me good luck. It does not seem like much, but later on, every time I felt like stopping, I just kept thinking of that question. I kept reminding myself that I was doing something for the first time right now and that I had to be present in that moment.

Doing something for the first time does not necessarily have to imply constantly doing something extreme, like skydiving or riding a motorcycle or traveling to a jungle in Africa (well, for some people it can!)

Doing something for the first time also does not necessarily have to imply that you have to continuously keep “topping” your previous first.

The whole notion can be different for everyone. It can be something as simple as trying a new type of cuisine for the first time, or picking a new hobby and learning it for the first time.

So take a minute and really think about this question. When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Is your answer “today”? Is it “last week”? Or is it “a few months ago”?

It does not matter what your answer is now. What matters now is what your answer will be going forward!

The important thing is to just make sure you are putting yourself out there.

Are you pushing yourself and trying new things? Are you getting the most out of every single day that you are on this earth? Are you truly living?

A lot of people push things off of their “To Do” list to their “To Do Later” list. However, “later” is not always guaranteed. For some people, “later” never comes.

So what better time is there than now? GO DO SOMETHING NEW FOR THE FIRST TIME! 

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!

Never Become Too Busy to be Human

Earlier this week, I was on the train commuting to work and something happened that I cannot stop thinking about. I did something that at the time made me slightly pause with guilt before I consciously made the decision to ignore the feeling. As I was about to exit the train at my stop, I noticed a woman seated right by the exit door crying. This was not just a silent private cry, but a full blown tears-streaming-down-the-face cry. Cue the slight pause that almost made me stop to ask her if she was okay. Almost.

But my ear buds were in, and the train door was open, and I was already really late for work. So I ignored the gut instinct that caused me to pause in the first place. I ignored the urge to kneel down in front of her and ask her if she was okay. I ignored everything inside of me that was begging me to empathize. I just did not have enough time for that. After all, I had to make a mad dash across that station platform to catch my connecting train, whose doors were seconds away from closing… So that is exactly what I did.

I continued on selfishly with my day. I did not give thought to that crying woman again- until 2 days later, when she rushed back into my thoughts and stopped me right in my tracks. I was so utterly disappointed in myself. I could have done something. I should have done something. When did I become too busy to be human?

When I first moved from a small town in Pennsylvania to New York City for graduate school five years ago, it was a major life adjustment for me. Not only did I feel incredibly alone and vulnerable to begin with, but it was a bitter cold January full of miserable icy snowstorms. That combination in itself is recipe enough for even a well-balanced person to feel the blues. I remember crying on the train every single night on my way to class for the first two months, and feeling shocked that not even one person ever asked me if I was okay. Not one.

The thing is it is our jobs as human beings to be there for each other. We must help each other on this journey. After all, we are all in this together. I know it is easy to get so caught up in the daily hustle of our own lives, but we must never lose our ability to be human. We must tap into the emotions and feelings that make us human and allow room for compassion, sympathy, empathy, kindness, consideration, etc. We cannot lose those, or else we will lose ourselves.

If I could go back in time to that moment with the crying woman on the train, I would do things differently. I would make the effort. I would take the ear buds out and ask her if she was okay. I would let her know that she was not alone.

All most people want and need is to know that there are other people out there in the world that understand and will be there for them. Never underestimate what a kind word or a show of concern from another person, even if it is a stranger, can do to make someone’s day better. It truly is as simple as that!

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!

Live Your Life Unapologetically

My name is Antonella and I am often told that my presence commands attention as soon as I enter any room. Friends, family members, and even colleagues describe me as “the life of the party”. I am currently living out a lifelong dream smack in the hustle and bustle of New York City, with career growth and opportunities, all the fun the big city offers, and the chance to truly create myself. From the outside looking in, most people assume that my life is picture perfect.

But here’s a little secret that most people do not know about me:
I am desperately afraid of “disappointing” people.

Yes, I am confident, firm, and unapologetic in making my life’s choices… but then I find myself still seeking approval after the fact.
Even though I brush things off, I have an intense need to please people. For some reason, the opinions of others still matter to me.

Specifically in my personal life, I tend to keep my own needs, wants, and desires at bay just to please the people I love.
But in the end, I become the one disappointed.
Then the frustration and anxiety appear because I feel like my most authentic self is being stifled just to make others feel comfortable and safe.

Recently, something just clicked. I realized that I am the only person responsible for my happiness. Only I can make the decisions regarding what is best for my path in life, and what will bring my soul content. I am the one who gets to call the shots.

The thing is I was not born for routine. I do not want to follow the same predictable path as everyone else. I am not afraid of change. My soul yearns for adventure, a thrill, the unknown. I have a passion for travel and experiencing other cultures, trying new things (literally, I am down for anything!), and creating friendships around the globe. I beam with happiness every time I get the chance to talk about my travel experiences. Sometimes I am met with eye rolls and comments like “Another trip?” and “How many vacations do you take a year?” Yet, this is MY journey. Who is anyone else to judge?

I am positive that I am not alone in the fear of disappointing others, or the need to seek approval. Maybe your experience isn’t exactly the same as mine, but you find yourself relating to this feeling.
This message is for you:

You do not need permission to shine.
You do not need the approval of others (even those you love the most) to live your life exactly as you wish to live it.

It’s OK to take ownership of your decisions and life choices.
It’s OK to say “This is what I am choosing for myself”.
It’s OK if others do not understand or do not approve of how you are living your life- it’s not their journey!

You are the one that has to live with the consequences of your decisions daily.
You are the one that has to look yourself in the mirror.
Your approval is the only one that should count.

Go live and be happy!

If something excites your soul, and you cannot stop thinking about it, then you owe it to yourself to pursue it 100% whole-heartedly. Without the fear of disappointing others.
Without the approval stamp of someone else allowing you to be happy.
Remember, we only get one shot at this.
In the end, make sure you can look back and say that it was exactly the life you wanted to live.

My wish for you is the courage to live your life unapologetically, chasing down your heart’s every desire.
With that, I leave you with my favorite quote, and current life mantra: “Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your soul on fire.”

Antonella is a gypsy soul with a passion for traveling, experiencing other cultures, and trying new things. Her “happy places” include airports, libraries, and Japanese restaurants. She enjoys reading, creative writing, music, kickboxing, risky/high-speed activities, and food! Her favorite things in life are crafting a good story and making people laugh. While she is still on a journey to figure out her exact life purpose, she is on a mission to be what she’s destined to be!