When was the last time you did something for the first time? Coming back from England, where I spent the last five years completing my higher education, meant that a lot of the friends whom I left behind no longer share similar interests. Since coming back to Oman, I have found myself mastering this question as a way to hopefully find people with similar interests and to encourage myself to try new things.
No matter what stage you are in – whether you have just finished a degree like me, you are between jobs or you are waiting for a new stage of your life to begin – this is the perfect time to do everything that you wanted to do when you were extremely busy.
While the uncertainties of a new stage might be stressful, look at it positively as a time for self-exploration and growth. This is the time to look back at any bucket lists you have written, any places you wished to visit and any skills you have longed to sharpen or learn.
As a way to ease myself into coming back home, travelling was the first thing of which I wanted to do more. I have always enjoyed travelling, and the whole world is on my travel list, but being busy with my studies made it a bit difficult to travel as much as I wanted. I was therefore open to travelling to any country that I hadn’t previously visited once I was done.
Since finishing my degree, I have visited a few countries; I walked the streets of Spain and fell in love with the architecture, I admired the Portuguese azulejos that covered Lisbon’s buildings and I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Georgian landscapes. I am also looking forward to all the future travels that I could manage before landing a job.
An increasing amount of research has shown the potential benefits of travelling. According to research conducted at Cornell University, experiences like travelling, rather than material possessions, could help boost your happiness. Another study that was published in SAGE Journals revealed that immersing yourself in new cultures could expand your cognitive flexibility and therefore your creativity.
Keeping in mind my goal to get a job in genetic counselling, I spent some time working towards it. With friends who also recently returned home, we gathered once a week to help out at a rehabilitation centre for patients with special needs. I also picked up some books on the field of genetic counselling to learn more about the skills required for the job. To make further use of my time, I’m planning to arrange a training internship in the field. Both volunteering and training can improve your skills and also make you stand out when it comes to applying for jobs.
One of my favourite hobbies to experiment with is writing. I find that it allows me to creatively express my thoughts and feelings in different ways, whether it’s through articles, poems or even letters. I enjoy setting up little projects for myself to practice writing. I did the 100 Happy Days project, in which every day I posted a picture of something that made me happy. For me, the most important part was not the picture but rather the caption. The project allowed me to improve my writing by engaging my audience in the experiences that I have felt rather than just stating what made me happy.
In an attempt to try something new, I wrote 30 letters to Allah during Ramadan, but this time I wrote in Arabic as a way to improve my native language skills that need brushing-up after 5 years abroad. I also attempted to include illustrations, as art has never been my forte. Writing has also landed me this opportunity to write professionally for Sekka magazine. Publishing articles was never something that I thought I would do. Find a hobby you enjoy and practice it while you have a lot of free time on your hands.
I am currently working on a list of things that I want to achieve before landing a job. Oman’s nature is truly breathtaking, and I’m hoping to find a way to connect with it through snorkelling or hiking. Joining a gym is also something which I am highly considering; there is nothing better than a gym session when applying for jobs and waiting on responses gets too stressful. I have a new group of friends that all enjoy arts and crafts, and with my new interest in illustrating, I’m looking forward to having more art sessions with them.
When was the last time you did something for the first time? If your answer is longer than a month ago, then I truly hope this article has in some way inspired you to get up and do something different. Grab a pen and paper and write a list of things that you want to try out. Life is too short to just sit and wait for the next chapter to start.
Maria Al Hinai is an Omani storyteller.