You Only Live Once?

Today I was scrolling through Pinterest and I saw a quote that said, ‘You’re always haunted by the idea that you’re wasting your life’.

You know how teenagers these days are all about YOLO? You Only Live Once! We seem to think that this is justification for doing stupid things and taking risks. But I disagree! What does YOLO actually mean? (I’ve seen several articles on the ‘real meaning’ of YOLO such as this one, so not everything I’m writing here are my original ideas; but everything is in my own words) When you think ‘You Only Live Once’ what do you think of? Some people might think of doing crazy things and living in the moment. Wanna go do something crazy and stupid? Why not, you only live once, after all. But that’s not what YOLO is about. YOLO is about recognizing that you only live once, so you should make your life mean something. It’s not about you getting something in life from the world; it’s about the world getting something from your life. It’s about you making a difference, being yourself, taking action, standing up for your beliefs. Things like that. Does it sometimes involve doing crazy things? Yeah, sometimes you do have to take risks. Sometimes when I’m thinking about something I’ll ask myself if it will really matter in five years. If I’m embarrassed about something, who will remember this in five years? Usually the answer is myself, because come on, I can’t be the only one who remembers embarrassing things for practically ever. Will it matter in five years if I study tonight and get a good grade on this test tomorrow? Will it matter in five years if I… whatever. Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes it’s no. But that helps me to differentiate between things that are important and things that don’t really matter that much. Another thing I ask myself is, will I regret doing this? Or will I regret not doing it? Will I regret going for a jog, no. Will I regret not jogging, probably. Will I regret spending time with my family when I kind of wish I was doing something else, no. Will I regret spending hours on Pinterest, maybe. Will I regret not spending hours on Pinterest, most likely not. How does this tie in? It’s about what really matters. These questions I ask myself (Will I regret it? Will it matter in five years?) help me to focus on what’s important to me and what’s going to be better in the long run. YOLO isn’t about living for today and being crazy and stupid. I think a lot of times when people use YOLO they’re using it very ironically, those times when you think ‘You actually do only live once so why are you doing something so stupid, you’re going to get yourself killed someday’. When I say YOLO I should be using it in the context of ‘I only live once so I’m going to take this chance to do something good’ not ‘I only live once so I’m going to ‘get the most out of life’ by partying and going crazy’.

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So back to the original quote. ‘You’re always haunted by the idea that you’re wasting your life’. I read this quote and it’s one of those that you just think ‘wow how true’ but then I realized, that’s not true for me at all. If it was, I’d totally love that quote… but it’s not. I’m not sure what I’m doing with my life yet, specifically. I don’t know for how long I’ll go to college exactly or what I’ll do after I graduate, what I want to do with my life, really. I’m still working on that part. But I do know that I’m not wasting my life. Why’s that? Because the main focus of my life is God. He’s my authority, the one who is in charge of my life. With God in charge, I can be 100% certain that I’m not wasting my life. I don’t know exactly what I’ll do but I do know that I will do something. When I think about my life, the things I’ve done that have really mattered have been focused on God, not on myself. The two big things are when I went to Malawi and when I went to Colombia. Those both really changed my life, for the better, and they were both focused on God. I went to Colombia on a missions trip with my grandparents as part of a small team teaching Indian women how to knit and crochet. During those two weeks I got so close to God, and He became so real to me. Besides teaching the women how to knit and crochet, we learned about their lives, and the persecution that some of them were going through for their faith. I was able to see God in action in Colombia and the lives of the people there, and I was able to see God working through me even. I went to Malawi less than a year later and spending two months focused on God was amazing. I was with Teen Missions International, and I was part of a team of 27 people drilling a well in a remote village. Those two trips really helped me grow a lot closer to God and surrender my life to Him. And it’s not just those mission trips that have helped me grow; I have been learning more about God and growing in Him constantly since I first really began having a relationship with God, when I went to Colombia. But what can I think of in my life that has been really good and really worthwhile, that I know was not wasting my life, that doesn’t involve God? Nothing. I know that my own life is not being wasted because God is in charge of it, and He’ll see to it that it’s not wasted. Of course there are still times when I ask ‘will I regret this?’ or ‘will this matter in 5 years’ and even though I know what will be better, I ignore that and do my own thing. And what happens? I see an opportunity missed, time wasted.

Do you want your life to be wasted? No, of course not. Then focus on what matters, and do your best. (If you do want your life to be wasted, you can disregard this entire post, but I would recommend that you re-read it and think about whether you really want to waste your life. But I’m assuming the majority of people are interested in having their lives count for something).

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A few photos from my Canada trip because what’s a blog post without photos, even if they are unrelated to the post?!

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