What being ALIVE means to me

This post is part of the ALIVE in Berlin Blog Tour, which is spreading the power of ALIVENESS to the masses. Alive in Berlin is a global gathering devoted to personal transformation that takes place on the 30th and 31st of May 2014 in Europe’s most exciting cityThe event will bring together world-class experts, visionaries and change makers from a variety of communities and disciplines. Together, we’ll explore the common threads that connect us and make us come alive. To learn more and join us, click here.

If you’d asked me what makes me come alive a few days ago I would have said something different to what I’m about to say now. In the middle of a hectic week of parties, gigs and lunches with old friends I would have said: “Inspiring people, amazing music and great wine.” These things will still sometimes make me feel at the top of the world, but after a solid six days of them you can start to feel the opposite of alive. Today, I feel alive again because of ten hours sleep, a five mile run and all day by myself to think and to write.

So, to recap, what being alive means to me is: partying all night but getting loads of sleep, being around great people but spending time by myself, indulging in rich food and alcohol but eating light meals and running a lot.

Yes, you heard that right. What being alive means to me is a lot of contradictions, because life is messy and confusing. But if you don’t let this bother you too much, it can also be a hell of a lot of fun.

Part of the fun for me is about learning about myself and what makes me come alive. By making a note of when I feel most inspired I’ve been able to change my life to include more of these things, and less of the other stuff.

Some things that make me feel alive are:

  • Realising that I can make something I thought I’d have to buy. For me, craft is massively empowering. That feeling of having made your own necklace, dress, scarf or lampshade: something that’s uniquely you. Something that you haven’t had to rely on the exploitative practices of a corporation for, or made to feel as though you’re the wrong body shape because it doesn’t quite fit properly.
  • Hanging out with a true friend. You know the one, where you can talk for hours and still not want to go home. One of those friends who inspires you, makes you laugh more than anyone you know, who is there for you when things go wrong and celebrating alongside you when they go right. You always leave thinking “Why don’t we do this more often?”
  • Finding the answer to something I’ve been mulling over for a while. I’ve learnt not to panic about not knowing the answer to a question: what I want to wear to an event, what I’m going to blog about next week, what I want my tattoo to look like, how I feel about a particular person, whether I should apply for a different job. Whatever the question, I know I can’t rush the answer and I know I can’t listen to anybody but my own intuition. I might not know what to do right away but if I give myself enough thinking time it’ll suddenly come to me –  in the shower, on a run, or first thing in the morning – and the “that’s it!” moment makes me come alive.
  • Running further than I’ve ever run before (and enjoying it). After a few years of running about four miles three times a week I’ve started to push myself further. Sure, it might be more difficult, but the feeling of having run further than I’ve ever run in my life before (and thought I would be able to) far outweighs any physical discomfort.
  • Hearing that first guitar chord of a favourite song. Whether I’m in the audience, in my car or dancing in my kitchen.
  • Stepping out of the airport or train station into a new city. I love the feeling of opportunity that travel brings: the chance to explore a new place, meet new people and try new food.

As some of the things that make me feel alive things contradict each other, I’ve learnt to balance them. I had a busy social week last week, so this week I’m planning to spend more time alone: reading, creating, and going to bed early. It might not be sound very cool but being cool isn’t what being alive means to me. Being alive is knowing myself, embracing opportunities, being okay with not knowing all the answers, and most of all enjoying the ride.

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3 thoughts on “What being ALIVE means to me

  1. This piece absolutely nails it for me too. I’ve been thinking about what it means to feel alive. And couldn’t accurately define it. Because it’s different at different times. I used to think the fact I can’t always focus on one thing is a negative – but I’m starting to learn that my strength is having a broad range of interests and I need to play to that more. And it’s the same about feeling alive. I need balance. And if I’ve been socialising for a week then I need to follow that up with a quieter week when I can read, write, reflect etc. And having a sense of meaning is so important to me – but sometimes I need to just go outside and throw a ball around – not worrying about the bigger picture.

    Thanks for writing this really helped me work out something – def synchronicity cos I was just thinking of this for myself and felt a bit confused!

    Alex

    • I think it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we need to have all the answers about questions like that. I spent years worrying that I didn’t have a key message as a blogger or an online “personal brand”. But actually, I think it’s okay to not have a one liner answer to questions like “What makes you feel alive?” “What are you excited about?” “What’s your life purpose?” Some kind of mission is good, but it’s easy to get stressed out about it and feel you can’t do anything that doesn’t fit into that.

      Having a broad range of interests is definitely a good thing – it makes you a rounded person who is resilient and adaptable. I’m the same, so I understand how it can sometimes be intimidating to meet someone with a lot of focus. But as you say, the important thing is to play to your strengths and be true to who you are and what your (often multiple and contradictory) interests are.

      Kate

  2. Wow, I love that Katie! As a fellow runner and early sleeper I share a lot of what you have written above! Also, I love travelling, airports and new places! Thank you SO much for sharing this and helping us create something immensely special! ❤ xo

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