Real Life: Things That Make You Feel Most Like Yourself

It’s my birthday this week, and though I don’t have anything too crazy planned, I did decide to take part of the Big Day off to pamper myself. I’m the first to admit that I am pretty bad at taking enough time off to relax, unplug, and unwind on a regular basis, so on such an occasion as a birthday, I get excited by all the possibilities of how to indulge. Though, when it comes right down to it, my list is pretty short: eat something I love, watch old movies I’ve seen a million times (I don’t know why, I just love to do this!), and maybe do something spa related.

Planning a little Birthday Fun-day got me thinking about those small things in life that make you feel the most like yourself. You know, those things that bring you so much joy, and in the moment when you’re experiencing them, you think to yourself, “Ugh, this is just the BEST.” Maybe those little things always result in feeling closer to the people in your life; maybe they make you more honest with yourself; maybe they’re just completely pleasurable (guilty pleasures totally count)! What are your things? I started jotting down a list and here’s what I came up with:

1. When I’m in the kitchen without a deadline (like on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon), cooking something really good that makes the house smell amazing and that we can’t wait to eat.

2. Flying back into San Francisco. This one is kind of strange, but the feeling of calm and “coming into myself” that happens every time I’m on a plane that’s about to land back at SFO makes me feel like I’m completely at home. It’s like a weight gets lifted and everything feels normal and right with the world again! Interestingly, when we were moving to NY and on the plane ascending away from the city, I got extremely anxious, started crying, and I think I knew in my gut something wasn’t right. Weird how that happens.

3. Grocery shopping. Maybe that sounds crazy, but I’m just in my element when roaming the aisles of Whole Foods. I’ve shopped at the same grocery store near me for over 10 years now, and I know it like the back of my hand (and am buddies with some of the staff too!). It’s such a simple pleasure, but loading up the cart with good ingredients gets me excited about what I can create with everything…and like I’m on top of my shit since the fridge will be stocked for the week.

4. Gardening. There’s nothing better than bringing new plants home, and getting them all settled into pots and planters (and then watching them bloom, of course). I get completely dirty and make a mess and it makes me immeasurably happy. When I visited a girlfriend in Portland earlier this summer, I actually asked her if we could do some work in her garden at her new house, that’s how much I love it.

5. Being in wine country or the countryside. I love how quiet it is and that I feel like I can be alone with my own thoughts. Joe and I always agree that we feel most at peace when we’re away from city life, as much as we love where we live, too.

6. Talking to an old friend, especially ones that you have long standing inside jokes with. One of the best feelings ever is seeing someone after months or even years of not talking, and the same jokes are still hilarious.

7. Watching movies or reading books that I know by heart! This has been a lifelong thing, but I am totally someone who can watch and read the same things over and over. I’m especially fond of period pieces. ;)

8. A really, really good yoga sesh. Is there anything better than being so in the flow of your practice, that when it ends, you realize you truly did zone out for an hour and your mind feels completely clear? When you walk out of a studio and have that feeling and it’s a gorgeous day…man, you feel like you can do anything. On my 30th birthday, a few friends and I were up at this rental house in the Hudson River Valley, and we had a local instructor come by and teach a yoga class for us one morning. Having a great yoga session outside in the sunshine felt so wonderful — maybe it just makes me feel really grounded to the Earth or something. Hippie dippie, yes, but what can I say? Fellow yogis, you know what I mean, right?

9. Eating dim sum! From about the age of 8 to 13, my mother used to take me to this Chinese restaurant in Austin almost every Saturday, when they did traditional cart dim sum service. I think because of this, dim sum is one of my favorite indulgences ever. I can’t explain it, but sitting down for a big dim sum service just makes me incredibly happy.

10. Getting really excited about finding new fonts or resources that inspire me. As you guys have probably sensed from my VMS Digest posts, I love discovering shit on the Internet. This is true of random articles, sure, but especially true about awesome design finds that get me thinking about art direction and design solutions in a different way. When I fall down that rabbit hole, I can feel my excitement bubbling up. Maybe that sense of curiosity or longing to discover is really innate for me? But it makes me feel completely like myself!

Making this list made me think: why do we wait for special occasions — like birthdays — to cultivate these moments in our lives? I’d wager that most of us have lists filled with simple pleasures, ones that are pretty easy to incorporate into our lives more. Right? What’s on your list of things that make you feel most like yourself? And how can we make them a more regular thing, not just something we celebrate with every now and again? I mean, I’m the one to talk here. I say all the time I want to read something or call someone or do something for myself and I completely let life (and my stupid iPhone) get in the way. Here’s hoping that this year’s birthday can kick off more simple pleasures, more often.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the birthday plans are as follows: definitely watching an old movie I love (I’d wager it’s going to be Pride & Prejudice), taking myself out for dumplings at lunch time (trying this new spot here in SF!), and in the afternoon, getting a facial. It’ll be a nice little day, if I do say so myself!

Wishing you a beautiful week ahead.


Leave a Comment


  1. 7.31.17
    Jess said:

    Happy early birthday, Victoria! I love this idea. I’ve been taking myself on a run along the lakefront every Sunday morning this month and then heading straight to a performance stretch class (myofascial release) and it’s the perfect way to unwind from my usually busy Friday and Saturday. I also like taking myself on date to a spot over in River North called Hub 51. They have the best chicken nachos I’ve ever had. Happy Monday!

  2. 8.1.17
    Kelly said:

    Happy happy birthday! Your day sounds like my version of a perfect day as well – pride and prejudice viewing included!

  3. 8.1.17
    Sonya said:

    Happy Birthday Victoria! I love this list. It is good that you have a long list of things that comfort you and make you feel like yourself. I think that means you truly know yourself.

  4. 8.1.17

    What a dreamy day! I need to make a list like this for days when I need a little perk :) Happy birthday lady.