I spent mine eating Korean with my friend Lucy. One of my happy places. Ironically, at a place called Seoul 'Soul'.
On a balmy Friday, the 16th of April just last year. It was the day I decided to join Remote Year.
At the time I had no idea it was my 10,000th birth-day.
We drew hilarious stupid cartoons on scraps of paper and post-it notes and spoke about how we would take over the world by turning our passions into movements (yes Lucy.. just like our Korean).
Lucy had lent me a coffee table book (that she hadn't actually read) about finding your purpose in the world. 400 pages later and I unfortunately only had one obvious key take away, but it was useful;
Take your Foundation (what lights you up at your core? eg. Being creative) + your Interest (something you're into or lose track of time with. eg. travel & adventure) + another Interest (eg. entrepreneurship) = getting on your way to defining your roadmap.
You're welcome. Homework achievement unlocked.
At the time I wasn't happy. I was terribly miserable, for a myriad of reasons. Not even kimchi could save me. I felt kind of lost. Life felt precarious yet precious, and this idea kicked me in the right direction a little.
I constantly wondered, what if I could 'have it all'? Surely there's an alternative to sitting in traffic. Sitting in an office. A way to combine my love of travel, adventure, exploration and learning with my professional skills, meet a tonne of new people AND throw in some social-impact-volunteer-stuff-to-make-you-feel-good activity? 'Sup Remote Year!?
So I applied. And I got accepted.
There's something nice about a big, well-rounded number like 10,000.
It's how many steps I aim for everyday. It's the amount I might not even reach daily at home. But now I do, walking to work, exploring the city and discovering ten thousand new things, every day of the year.
Time is a funny thing on Remote Year. We've crammed so many crazy one-off life experiences into one wild ride, whilst maintaining our 'normal' lives. You really do start to value each moment. And with 10,000 seconds equalling only 2 hours, 46 minutes, 40 seconds, there's a lot make the most of and it's not easy. It's positively exhausting (did you know the film Boyhood runs for this length? Watch it, it's excellent).
I'm not the only one obsessing over this. This number is pretty special to other people too. Some call it our 'Saturn Return Birthday' because it takes about 10,000 days for this gaseous planet to fully revolve around the sun into the same position it was in when you were born; a time to make your own luck, sober up to the idea of being a grown-up, become aware of your own mortality or take stock of life.
Some less celestial scientists agree, it also takes around this amount of time for the human brain to fully develop. In particular, your prefrontal cortex (Yes, nerd alert. She likes brains). Which is responsible for our complex behavioural performance and executive decision making. So, hello adult you. You're apparently stuck with your personality at this point.
Bonus fun fact: Each neuron in the human brain is estimated to connect to 10,000 others.
It's also fun to find out there's way more than this number of eclectic kids working remotely around the world, doing the same thing as you. Even more connections to make.
The people I have met on this adventure have really, truly, changed my life. We might scatter like pigeons to every corner of the globe after this month but we have achieved something great together. We've made the world smaller. 10,000 miles now feels like 100.
So all things considered, it could be a truly monumental 'birthday' for us all.
Debatable, but according to Malcolm Gladwell, spending 10,000 hours on something makes you an expert. That's only 588 days of waking hours, but thanks Mal, for reminding me that I'm a bloody expert on me, Emily.
Something that turning 10,000 days has encouraged me to do, is truly just be myself.
It's more interesting and satisfying than anything I'll ever do. And I haven't felt this comfortable in my own skin, saying yes to things, saying no to things, and being transparent and as authentic as I can be.
The 480 days since my 10,000th birthday has been an extraordinary ride. I've got the tools and confidence to continue this bizarre way of living uprooted.
Like this year, every year after will be different. I can feel it.