Skydiving (solo). Cliff diving. Driving race cars. Golf lessons. Grad school. Tractor racing. Triathlons. Snipe hunting. Buying the shoes. Cake for breakfast.
Just a few of my favorite YOLOs.
Then there are other moments that aren’t quite as glamorous. Like the time I tried to Risky Business down the hallway of a fancy bachelorette condo and broke my face. Literally, knocked myself out cold. Not to mention my teeth and cheek bone.
Or the time I slid backward down a pontoon slide and landed smack in the middle of a jellyfish parade.
Or when I “knew” I could hang with my older cousins doing bike tricks in the dirt pit near our farm and came out with a sprained elbow, my braces peeking out through holes in my cheeks, and a nail in my knee.
Or when I decided to take a quick dip in (vibrio) water so gross I couldn’t see my hand in front of my face and got stabbed by a stingray. Only to wake up ten days later with a (very) infected, huge, purple foot!
Or, any time I walk in heels.
Any time I walk anywhere for that matter.
You would think for someone so accident-prone (or dumb), I would be a little less bold. Quite the opposite.
I don’t want to be someone who looks back on life and sees a whole bunch of should haves and "Ragrets."
I’ve fallen more than enough times to know I’ll (eventually) get back up again. So fear no longer has a hold on me (other than the whole open-water-phobia-thing, but I’m workin’ on it).
I’ve simply learned to YOLO, responsibly.
I’m not going to back down or give in and I’m certainly not going to shy away from a challenge or a good time. I (try to) tune out my devious friends egging me on so they can laugh at my inevitable epic fails. (I mean, are they really even my friends??) Joking, but just in case, I have a mouthguard handy at. all. times.
My mind racing (as usual) while writing, I began pondering a completely different kind of YOLO-ing. You see, I’ve been reading an array of books, listening to TED Talks and have fallen in quite a few YouTube wormholes all on this growing issue of isolation.
(Almost) gone are the days when you walk down the street smiling at strangers, starting conversations at the taco truck or petting the stranger’s dog that’s about to pee on your foot. We look up, we look down, desperately avoiding eye contact, put our headphones in and zone out. We’ve stopped engaging with each other, with the world.
I don’t know when we lost touch or why we are so afraid to reach out, but it’s totally fixable. We just need to start taking care of each other again, in a Mayberry kind of way.
As in, I might not know you, but if I see you bust your butt on the sidewalk, I’m going to run to help you. Sure, we’ll probably (definitely) laugh later, but in that moment, I feel responsible for you because you are a fellow human in need. It’s my greatest hope that we all feel and act that way one day soon, regardless of skin tone, gender, origin, social status, or age.
My new YOLO challenges are not nearly as bold as skydiving, but they are definitely making a huge impact on me, my attitude, my relationships, and really, my whole life! It’s the little things only you know about that you can do every day that will give you all the feels.
- Making eye contact with strangers on the street and flashing those pearly whites, maybe even chirping out Hi!
- (Actually) speaking to the ten people crammed in the elevator with you Monday morning.
- Calling your 90-year-old Uncle Bill just to say Hello, even though it takes 8 tries for him to hear you and you’ll probably have the same convo you’ve had for 5 years now.
- Letting a toddler decorate your hands and face with glitter paint you’re pretty sure won’t wash off easily.
- Spontaneous road trips with a friend who just needs a friend, destination unknown.
- Giving limping ol’ Rusty a ride home from the grocery store because you saw him walk there.
- Entertaining rowdy Toddlers 1 and 2 while random mom tends to Baby 3 in the Target dressing room.
Taking care of each other, the everyday strangers - now that’s YOLO-ing responsibly.
Whether I know them or not, caring for the people around me, is what living My best life is all about, especially now that I truly understand living isn’t all about me, me, me. I YOLO everywhere I go, every chance I get, with every person I meet. I know (I know), shouting YOLO all the time isn’t cool anymore.
Don’t worry, I don’t. And, I *promise* this is my last story about YOLOs.
But, it is true.
You. Only. Live. Once.
So, make that call. Shake the hand. Write the book. Hold the door. Ask her out. Ask him out. Go on the trip. Call your sister, the mean one you don’t talk to. Mow your neighbor's grass. Take a chance. Make your bed. (fist bump, moms) Start the blog. Be nice to your waitress. Run the race. Write the letter. Take the lessons. Tell that chick she’s got TP on her shoe! Say Hi first! And, if all else fails, just Smile.
You won’t know until you try and I promise, you will never regret being kind.
YOLO responsibly friends, and don’t forget your mouthguard.