Canada Life Stories Motivation

When I turned 23, I felt bored


When I turned 23, I felt bored.

Maybe not so much bored as stale, comfortable, unexcited – which I know sounds like the typical jaded New Yorker response coming from me. It’s not because I wasn’t throwing myself a birthday party, but because something about my past year of being 22 was just not as exciting as previous years. Does everyone feel this way? Do you just write it off as “Yeah, that’s what it means to get older!” cuz that’s not a good enough answer for me.

I used to feel so damn ballsy and rebellious when I was 19, 20, 21 freshly moving to New York City and eventually to Paris and Berlin…and now here I am living, to me, what seems like a monotonous boulot, metro, dodo lifestyle – as the French call it. Work, subway, sleep. Basically, a robot.

Being 22 was mostly spent “being a responsible adult” and “paying my bills” and “laying the foundation for my career.” Blah, blah, blah. There’s gotta be a way to do all of that…and NOT feel so…predictable? Of course, that’s what I’m trying to do by making travel videos and travel blogs, and of course it’s all succeeding exponentially, but as hard as you work, there’s still a part of being an entrepreneur or anything in the entertainment industry for that matter…which is…just a waiting game. Completely out of my hands.

Which is thus, leaving me feeling no other way I can describe but with an Amanda Bynes original…merher.

For the weeks before my 23rd birthday, I thought I’d try something different and buy myself something to “reward” myself…for something? I don’t know, whatever – maybe that would put some extra spice in my life? I tried hard to think of what I could even want for my birthday and realized even more that this is where my extreme minimalist side comes out. An iPhone 6? No…it’ll already be outdated in a year. New clothes? No, I would buy that even if it wasn’t my birthday. That’s not really a meaningful birthday gift.

Finally I decided on something that would improve my quality of life in New York City. The only thing I came up with was a microwave. That’s how you know I’m getting old.


But okay, still bored. Yeah my daily life had upgraded a tad bit now that I can reheat leftovers and make sweet potatoes in 1/8th of the time, but that doesn’t help me in breaking this sense of merherness with a daily routine of doing the same things every single day.

Buying yourself IPhones and clothes and microwaves (lol) will of course make it more comfortable to live your daily life, but they aren’t things that will really mark your life. My birthday would go by, and that would be it. Just another birthday where I bought myself something I’d probably forget in a few years.

I decided to go to a coffeeshop with the specific purpose of finding myself something that wouldn’t be outdated, that wasn’t something I could just buy any old day, and that would make me remember my 23rd birthday and add some spunk to my life. I looked through my old Facebook photos and noticed one common theme of being 19, 20, and 21 that was missing from 22: spontaneity. The excitement of the unknown. I used to literally look when I was free, and immediately book something with money I had put aside just for travel.

So that’s what I did.

Forget about material things, I booked myself an eleven-hour train trip through the Adirondacks to Montréal, Canada…for just a few days later.

Before I came to Montréal, I didn’t know Philip, Yusan, Brett, Alexandra, or the girl at Chez Boris who wrote me two pages of things to do in Montreal. I didn’t know that Montréal’s Mile End neighborhood would be so cool. I didn’t know what poutine tasted like. I didn’t know Québecois French was so hard to understand for someone who has studied France French. I didn’t know the quesadilla with green sauce from Burritoville would be one of my most favorite things I have ever eaten in my life. And unlike a new iPhone or microwave from Craigslist, none of these things will ever break, or ever be outdated; they will last with me for the rest of my life.

Spend your money on travel, not things. Because the more things you have, the harder it is to shut up and go.


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  • Solal

    One of my favorite articles you’ve written so far. Best birthday memories are not the material things that I got (don’t even remember them) but more where and with whom I celebrated it. You got me, je vais à Montreal pour mes 23 ans 😉
    PS : Ca veut dire quoi ”mehrer” ??

  • Yay Burritoville!!!! Montreal for the win! Glad you had an awesome time in my home city!

    • Loved it! In fact, there are two more Montréal blogs coming! Thanks for finding our blog!

  • Pingback: 4 Crappy Excuses I Hear You Give About Why You Could Never Travel Alone | Shut Up and Go()

  • Great writing Damon! Your article raises a much needed flag within today’s conventional ‘buy more’ mindset. As you point out, spontaneity, mindfulness and challenging our human nature to fall into a routine, is the only way to feel fully alive instead of like we are carrying out a meaningless existence on a treadmill. Don’t ever stop being you!

  • Louie Guinto

    I love you guys, I just booked a $10 greyhound roundtrip ticket from Vegas to LA after I watched your videos. I will be moving to Utah to study and enjoy Utah’s beautiful nature. And hopefully, if I have enough money, travel to Chicago and all its neighboring cities. Thank you for the DuoLingo app, currently learning French! Au revoir et mercy beaucop!

    • Yes Louie! That’s super cheap and we’re definitely going to take advantage of that when we move out to LA in a few weeks! Thank YOU for the tips! 😀

  • Ryan Spong

    I really like this! I’m releasing a similar story on Youtube a few days from now. I’m 23 and my life had become to comfortable so I quit my job and left my house with no idea where I was staying that night. Great post, man!

    • Alex Kazmier

      Probably should not have quit your job Lmfao now ur homeless and screwed

  • Simon Rollat

    Je viens de lire ce magnifique post Damon, and I can tell you that I had to take a break and think about it couple minutes avant d’écrire mon commentaire. This year I don’t want anything for my 17th birthday so I’ll ask my family to give the money they wanted to offer me to people who really need it. Thus, I want them to buy UNICEF’s gifts to save lives ( like $44 vaccination kits that can helps 68 children).
    You confirmed what I thought: minimalism is a lifestyle, and giving to others is the complementary attitude I guess. You don’t own things so they can’t bother you (let’s shut up and go mon ami ! ) and instead of just accumulating money you help someone (& obviously I’ll keep my salary to travel hehe).

    Continuez à écrire sur le blog les potes, c’est génial 😉

  • Samantha Elizabeth Dignam

    This weekend I was supposed to be going on a three day whitewater canoe trip that I’ve been registered for for 2 months. I slept through three alarms, woke up 3 hours late and missed the trip.
    After having a good cry, I decided not to waste my weekend and booked a same day bus ticket to Montreal where I had the craziest, most fun adventure and met great people in my hostel. I read this article the night before the sleep-in fiasco and it definitely influenced my attitude and decision to shut up, stop crying and go. Thank you!!