It’s easy to float through life. Whether it be not challenging yourself at school or work, not trying something new, not branching out and meeting new people, not traveling, or any other excuse or rationalization that you might have for not doing the things that would ultimately make you happier, it’s easier to not do new, exciting things than it is to take a leap of faith.
This is human nature. As humans living in the chaotic and crazy modern world, constantly being bombarded by information and news (often bad news) from seemingly infinite sources, we are starved for comfort. Because of this lack of comfort, most of us try to find order and peace by keeping our heads down and doing what’s expected of us. High school, college, good grades, a good job, a 401k, a promotion, a retirement plan. Each instruction leads to another, and as we complete each step, we become more and more entrenched in the process and the routine, making it more and more difficult to step away, and harder and harder to remember, or decide, what exactly it is that we actually want out of this wild ride that is life.
But is this comfort really what we need and want, or is it just a by-product of a streamlined life where our constant listening to others’ plans for us leaves us scared and alone when finally forced to make decisions for ourselves about our life? At a certain point everyone has to realize that they are the only one in charge of their life. Parents, teachers, bosses, the media, and society as a whole will always have opinions about what you should do, but only you can decide what it is you really want to do, what will really make you feel happy and fulfilled, and take the steps necessary to pursue this path.
There are bountiful examples of this unfulfilled attitude throughout our modern society. Countless bestsellers have been written by lawyers, doctors, accountants, journalists, and every other type of profession imaginable, who, after years of this unfulfilling “comfort” in their lives, threw caution to the wind and finally did what they truly wanted to do. This is undoubtedly difficult, because it essentially means undoing all of the years of conditioning telling us to follow a set, acceptable, and streamlined path. But it seems to go without saying that the risks are far outweighed by the reward: a happy life doing what you’re passionate about.
So here’s the big question: if we realize now that there’s a large chance that we’ll get a point where we understand that we want to stop living how others want us to and finally do what we’re passionate about, why not skip the in-between?
Life is short. There’s no time to waste living other peoples’ version of your life. So throw caution to the wind! Relentlessly pursue your dreams, and don’t be disheartened by other people that don’t get it. Travel, go skydiving, meet new people, drive a little bit too fast. Pursue the things that make your stomach drop. That give you a rush. Because that rush, that anxious anticipation and air of possibility when you begin your next adventure, that smile you get after having a great conversation with a complete stranger, these are the things that make life worth living. Life’s too precious to float through with no self-initiated path or purpose. So take that leap of faith, and dive headfirst into your life.
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones that you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” - Mark Twain
This post was written by Derek Ball. You can find him over at his blog, Alter Apathy.