From Room to Room
5 lessons from living in 26 rooms in 10 months
Growing up in Bangladesh for 18 years, I knew two rooms. At Brown for two years, I knew two more rooms (one who’s existence I like to deny. #PerkyPerkins132).
In the last 10 months, I’ve gotten to know 26 rooms.
They’ve included small 10x12ft singles, shared hostels, living rooms to penthouse apartments and hotel suites. So today’s story is about what traveling through all these spaces taught me.
1. There’s comfort in stability
I think the age old “push yourself out of your comfort zone” is well-intentioned but there’s a place for the comfort zone as well. When you’re comfortable, you feel good. And when you feel good, you do good.
It’s a fine balance before the comfort of stability makes you stagnant. But before it, I’ve found that the comfort zone affords you one less stress. And you can use that clarity to produce your best work.
So while you can push yourself in some arenas of life, I firmly believe there are other areas where you should stay squarely in your comfort zone. All the pressures of the unknown can really begin to take a toll.
Think about it like this. Every time you do push yourself outside of the comfort zone, that discomfort slowly joins your ever growing comfort zone.
So maybe we can rephrase it like this. Don’t “push yourself out of your comfort zone”. This to me implies constantly putting yourself in an uncomfortable situation to no end. I tried this. And all I had was a bunch of headaches and depression.
Instead, make your comfort zone bigger.
This to me implies a coming back to a space where you feel good. It implies a learning curve. It implies that whatever doesn’t feel great right now, eventually will.
At the rate I’m going, I can definitely say my comfort zone has gotten massive.
2. There’s value in flexibility
I’ve lived in certain rooms for only a few days. I think the longest I stayed in one space was 10 weeks. And that was during my summer internship in NY. While moving around had its own stresses, it was oddly empowering to be able to pack my bags in 5 minutes and leave when ever I wanted to (and a few times when I didn’t have a choice).
Flexibility afforded me freedom.
I was never tied down to a place. I could explore when I wanted to. I could book tickets to a new place the night before and be out the next morning (which I did a couple times).
When you realize that you don’t need to be shackled to a certain space and all you need is some clothes, a really good winter jacket and a zest for doing crazy shit, the world really is your oyster (cheesy alert. #sorrynotsorry). You begin to feel alive. You become more aware of the control you have over a situation. Certainly when things aren’t going your way.
So after a while, I began to see moving around so much less of a pain and more of an adventure.
3. Being able to pack under 10 minutes is a must-learn skill
Highly recommend learning this one. I had moved around so much to the point where I could walk out of the shower, pack my bags and be out in 15 minutes flat. Kinda felt like James Bond. Minus the fancy car and guns and explosions. Basically the same.
If you’re a traveler like yours truly, this is one skill that will serve you well.
Also, weight distribution is KEY.
I got very good at learning how to shift weights between a suitcase, a trolley bag, a backpack and a purse. Which btw, are the only things you need if you’re going for long haul travel in multiple countries and don’t want to be a total hippy.
Finally, smile to the airport staff. They’ll let your overweight bags through if you’re nice. I got away with it 4 times hahaha.
4. Moving around provides perspective
I had lived in small 10x12 singles, shared hostels, and two living rooms. But I also got to stay in penthouse apartments and hotel suites. So it’s been a wide array of experiences.
Having experienced so many types of living conditions, I was able to figure out how much space I actually need to take up. It’s not a penthouse apartment. But I do need a little more than 120 square feet.
It’s important to try a little bit of everything and then be real with yourself about what you like. Don’t put yourself in a closet (unless I mean, that’s your cup of tea. Then by all means go for it!). And this philosophy goes for everything in life really.
Try a little bit of everything. See what you like and don’t like. And then come to your own conclusion about what works for you. It really can be boiled down to something that stupidly simple.
5. Gratitude and appreciation for everyone I met along the way
I am genuinely so thankful to all the people that opened up their homes for me to live in (even if they didn’t know who I was).
To the roommates, the friends of friends of friends, and to my uncle, THANK YOU!!!
The added benefit of moving around so much is meeting people and learning their story. And seeing someone in their home is a whole other level of intimacy. It’s where they don’t have to be prim and polished. It’s where they can just be. And that’s why I didn’t totally mind moving around so much.
At the end of the day, I’m lucky that I get to be as stupid as I am and still manage to keep a roof above my head. So hopefully if you’re in the position to, you’re able to do the same for someone else.
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