Having turned eighteen this year and thereby having reached the legal drinking, driving and partying age in Germany, many people have congratulated me on my newly reached freedom.
One topic that society seems to expect of young adults, which my eighteen year old self doesn't seem to fit in, is partying. It's not that I don't enjoy dancing or spending time with my friends, but it's rather the surroundings and the organizational process that lead to a night out that's not my cup of tea.
Recently, I decided to go out of my comfort zone and join a friend that had invited me to go to a bar on a Saturday night. Although, I am always rather in the mood to go to the cinema or cook dinner at home, I thought it was time that I gave the "party experience" another try. Once I had reached the train station near the bar we had agreed meeting at, I got a call from my friend, telling me, that plans had changed and that she was going to meet me two train stations further away. By that time nature decided to play a trick on me, as it started to pour rain while I had already decided to walk to the new meeting point. Having almost arrived at my destination, my cellphone rang again. It was my friend telling me that (surprise!) her one group of friends had decided to go to a house party somewhere else and her other group of friends would come an hour later. She would furthermore not be at our meeting point anymore but at some other place in the city center where I was supposed to come to. This place of course was not the final destination either, but just one stop down the road, which was supposed to follow a late night dinner at some kebab place in Mitte that was supposed to lastly end in the bar we had planned to go to initially.
Can you see the amount of information I was confronted with? No wonder that after this third call, me, already drenched from the rain and slightly stressed out by the constant change, decided to hop into the next train and go back to my warm, safe, comfortable home.
This particular experience really made me think. How is it, that my generation seems to be as unable to make decisions and stick to them? And also: Is it the others or am I simply not flexible and spontanous enough to keep up with this habit? In the end I think it's a bit of both combined with the conditions of modern day Germany.
Today young adults (me included) live in a world that offers us almost unlimited options, experiences and paths to chose from, that simply seem to overstrain our willpower from time to time. „I don't know“ or „I don't care“ have not only become standard answers in conversations but also metaphors for this modern, fast-paced, yet intimidating world, that ironically often seems to prevent us from committing to our goals.
My personal way of finding a solution to this issue was rather simple: isolation. I decided to leave my home country for a few weeks and went on a trip to Madrid, Spain. Although I stayed at my relative's home, it was still a big step to explore such an unknown city all by myself. In the end, spending time alone did not only reassure me that I was independent enough to take on the next adventure, but also gave me a lot of time to think about what I want to achieve in life and what drives me to get to my goals. Also, ignoring that cellphone and social media platforms for some time (I know it‘s hard!) gave me a lot of spare time to be alone with myself and my thoughts.
While this strategy might not be the one for everybody, I still believe in self reflection being one of the most useful tools to finding your goals and gaining some clarity and calmness in your life.
As to partying - for now I think that I feel quite comfortable being my couchpotato self and leaving it to the brave and flexible people of my generation to conquer the night. But, who knows, maybe someday I will be adventurous enough and discover my inner party animal after all.
If I do so, I will of course let you know ;) ...
Attached you can find some pictures I took during my two week stay in Madrid.
Spanish pastries near Puerta del Sol
El Retiro park
Exploring Madrid's creative hub, Malasaña
Plaza Mayor at night