Looking back on my younger days, I find it incredibly ironic how much of my life I spent listening to Pink Floyd, whose hit song “Time” is specifically about not sitting around and letting life pass you by.
But, like oh so many high school and college students, I wasted a lot of my time in the short- and long-term. I would sleep late on Saturdays, lose hours “hanging out” with friends and scrolling through Facebook and Tumblr endlessly.
In the long-term, I also was never sure what I wanted to do with my life, so I drifted through the easiest college courses, never really pushing myself to do better. It wasn’t until I hit around 25 that I realized I’d missed a large chunk of my life for absolutely no reason. The “good times” I’d had weren’t that great, and, in truth, I was always just passing time until something better came along.
What I realized is that nothing simply “comes along.” Life is what you make of it. If you’re unhappy with something in your life, there is nothing stopping you from making moves to change it.
My problem in college was that I’d figured I’d already sunk time and money into studying toward one degree, so switching majors in the middle of my college career would be a hassle. Well, it would have been a minor hassle then, but it’s a major hassle now that I’m in the real world without a clue of where to go from here.
If I were able to go back in time and visit my younger self, first I would smack the beer can out of his hand and tell him to read more. Then, I would tell him to, as Andy Dufresne in Shawshank Redemption says,”get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”
Stop Waiting, Go Out and Live Life
1. Good things don’t come to those who wait
The idea that good things come to those who wait works for children who rely on their parents for everything they desire in life. Once you have control of your own life, you need to go out and earn everything you desire and hope for in the world.
You’ll certainly need to be patient, such as when waiting for a call back after an interview, but you shouldn’t waste the time in-between just waiting for your phone to ring. In this world, you’ll reap while you sow, so you better make hay while the sun shines (ugh, two metaphors in one sentence. I apologize).
2. Risks are necessary
Let me rephrase that: Calculated risks are necessary. I’m not saying you should do the whole “YOLO” thing kids talk about these days and put yourself in danger. But you definitely should take the leaps of faith that are necessary to push you forward in life.
If you never step out of your comfort zone, you’ll end up sitting on your couch watching sitcom reruns your entire life. Try to do something that scares you and makes you feel vulnerable every day.
There’s no point in getting out of bed today if you’re going to do the exact same thing you did yesterday. The world has a lot to offer; try to get as much out of it as you can.
3. Check your “what if’s” at the door
Again, do so calculatingly. If you’re thinking of taking a risk that will endanger you or someone else, you should definitely let “what if’s” dissuade you from acting maliciously or imprudently.
But if the risk you’re taking involves public speaking, or asking a girl out, don’t let “what if’s” cripple you to the point of not going for it. The truth is, the negative thoughts you have about taking a risk are most likely greatly overblown.
If you drop your cue cards or stumble over your words while giving a speech, the worst thing that’ll happen is your audience might chuckle sympathetically. In the grand scheme of things, such small embarrassing moments are only remembered by you.
4. Your regrets and your past don’t define you
Everyone likes to say they have no regrets because they’ve learned from their mistakes. I highly doubt that’s true; everyone regrets something in their past, and would do anything to take back their mistakes.
But the past is the past, and if you truly have learned from your mistakes, you’ll never make them again, and you’re a stronger person for having learned from them. Life is a constant learning experience; if you find you’ve stopped learning, you should start taking life more seriously.
5. Keep moving forward
Like I just said, if you’re not learning, you’re not living. I know life keeps you busy, and some days you just want to turn on the TV and stare into space for hours on end. But remember, you’ll never get that day back again. What good is “working for the weekend” if you spend your weekend half asleep?
Try to take advantage of every waking moment you have on this planet. It’s hard to do, but just think of how far ahead you’ll be of all the people binge watching a show on Netflix for the fourth time in the past year.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm3.staticflickr.com