YOLO, the latest trend in cliches. In case you aren’t aware of what it stands for (I had been seeing that damn hashtag for months before I knew what it meant), it means “you only live once.” It’s one of those things that you either roll your eyes at or nod your head in agreement every time you see it. I tend to be an eye roller, but the fact of the matter is, it’s true. And when you really stop to think about it, that’s kind of a weighty nugget to bear. There are no second chances at life. If you make a mistake, you do not get the time spent on that mistake back. It’s gone forever.
For a long time, this idea, this knowledge acted as a chain binding me. There were decisions I had made, huge life decisions, that were not the best decisions I had ever made. I won’t go so far as to say that they were mistakes, but they certainly weren’t smart. There were years of my life that, rather than admit I had made a wrong choice and move on, I tried to fix things. I wanted to make these decisions “right” so that I didn’t feel like I had wasted time that I could never get back. I realize now how stupid this was. Instead of owning up to my lack of wisdom, I “wasted” even more time trying to justify something that wasn’t justifiable.
Eventually, I got to the point where I couldn’t do that anymore and I finally made the choice to change my situation and take those years for what they were – a learning experience that went on a little too long. I realized that second chances can exist and I gave myself that chance. Will I ever get those years in my early and mid 20′s back? No, but that’s okay because I now have the chance to make my late 20′s and my 30′s better than what they would have been otherwise.
I think this fear of admitting that we have “wasted” time is huge part of what keeps us from taking those risks that could lead to greater happiness and life fulfillment. What if I spend all that time working on that degree and then I hate my career choice? What if I take this job that doesn’t pay as well but gives me more time to write/perform/create/do ‘x’ and I never find success with that occupation? What if I take a chance on loving this person and things don’t work out down the line? And on and on and on…
Every choice we make has a risk. Life is a risk. We must chose whether we take the safe path that may not be as fulfilling, but is also not likely to lead to disaster, or take a chance on the path that could lead to either great fulfillment or greater disappointment. If we chose the latter, we often face a choice that I believe is even more difficult, the choice of whether or not to take that path of risk again when the first time led to failure. It is this second choice that has had me stalled for quite some time. I think part of what makes the choice so hard is that one is not right or wrong, they are simply different. They lead to different lives and we must choose which life we want, which is scary. But I have finally decided. It’s time to breathe deep and take the first bold steps down the path of risk. I choose to give myself a second chance.
Have there been times in your life where you have faced these choices? Which path did you choose? Or are you currently stalled at one of these forks? Let me know in the comments.