All the things only spontaneous people understand
“Truth,” I once asked a former roommate in a silly game of Truth or Dare, “if you could have the chance to meet Leonardo DiCaprio, but you only had fifteen minutes to get ready, would you go?”
“Absolutely not,” she declared. “If I don’t have time to look the way I’d want to for a moment like that, I’d rather not go.”
I was flabbergasted. I’ve always been a person who would take up any opportunity at a moment’s notice, no matter what the circumstances. I make plans on the fly, and change direction just as quickly. In some ways it’s good—I can adapt pretty easily to different situations without a whole lot of notice—and in some ways it’s a challenge. (Hello, grocery checkout aisle!) Turns out having a plan isn’t the worst thing in the world. Here are some of the challenges I’ve had being a spontaneous person.
It turns out that sometimes you actually need a reservation
I love spending a day wandering about with friends or loved ones and deciding later what food or atmosphere we are in the mood for for dinner. Many times this non-plan is the perfect one as we will happen across a new place or stumble upon an old favorite we’d forgotten and be inspired in the moment to just grab a table. But I’ve been in cities, including my own, when it’s peak tourist season and your casual approach to where dinner will be is sidelined by the fact that people from all over the world made reservations months ago and you’re now subjected to a two hour wait. I’ve learned the hard way that you can’t be that spontaneous on a Saturday night in New York City the week before Christmas with six hungry friends.
Pulling off a spur-of-the-moment plan is extra satisfying
I get a rush of adrenaline when I think my day is progressing along a certain predictable way and all of a sudden, some last minute idea propels it into an entirely different direction. A few weeks ago, I was bidding friends an early goodnight after some happy hour cocktails and pizza when my phone rang. Another friend had an extra ticket to one of the last showings of an off Broadway cabaret show I had been dying to see. I had thirty minutes to get there. I felt gross from the humidity of the day, tired from working, and my makeup had all but disappeared from a steady explosion of face sweat throughout the day. And yet I shouted, “I’m on my way!” The show was fabulous and I felt great for the rest of the week that I had just said yes.
Finances can sometimes be a challege
For a point in time during my twenties, after a particularly bad break up, I hated feeling alone sitting at home so I began impulsively saying yes to any plan that would take me out of the house, without the slightest thought to whether these things fit into my budget. Shopping, extravagant dinners, vacations: It was easy to just swipe the credit card and let the fun times roll. It took a really astronomical bill one month to make me give myself a hard shake and be more responsible going forward. Credit card debt is no good for anyone. Spontaneity shouldn’t be synonymous with not using your brain, and there are plenty of ways it can be utilized without breaking the bank. Some planning is definitely a good thing.
Breaking out of your normal routine is great! Keeping a routine is hard
Like the adrenaline rush from a last minute invitation, there can also be a great excitement for no set structure to a day, a date or a trip. Having a day job means, to some extent, that consist of a predictable routine each day. The bad part of being constitutionally spontaneous is that routine can sometimes be difficult to stick to. But the good part is that you can give yourself permission to break habits easily. Last week when I discovered I would have some unexpected days off this week, I checked my bank account, checked various flights on Kayak and on a whim I booked one to Miami as a last minute birthday present to myself. It was fun! It was wonderful! It was completely unplanned.
Being spontaneous can lead to great adventures! It can also be a strain on your bank account. But overall, I’m glad that I’m not any other way.