A thought occurred to me last night as I was mulling over my final semester of college (and my tireless search for a post-grad job).
Would we be as motivated if we didn’t only live once?
What would happen to our ambition if we could have a do-over in another life? If “YOLO” wasn’t a thing?
Would we get lazy? Would we all just give up and move to tropical islands to embrace the beauty and lull of paradise? (Because our lives could start again.) Maybe some of us would. Maybe some of us wouldn’t.
Perhaps some just have it in their veins — to be fiercely persistent even if our one shot wasn’t just “one shot”.
I’ve completed all but one semester of these four grueling, transformative years. I’ve taken countless finals, encountered cold epidemics catalyzed by sleepless nights and sleep thwarted by caffeine dependency and Netflix binges.
I’ve done my time interning, building my portfolio, and gathering up experience both on and off campus. My resume is polished but always a work in progress. (Thanks to one of the most dedicated advisors in my school’s writing department, I will always be adding and deleting commas, adjusting and readjusting margins.)
So it’s safe to say I’m as hungry (and terrified) as ever to get out there — to show them (whoever “them” is) what I’ve got.
But would I be as driven if I knew this life wasn’t it?
My blankets were smothering, my wired thoughts in a whirlwind. I anxiously eyed my marble-cased laptop charging on the desk chair beside my bed. (I got the case right before my internship at Hearst last summer and thought it suited the role. It was equal parts edgy and elegant.)
I’d been on my laptop all day writing.
The answer was yes. Yes, I’d be just as driven. It occurred to me that if I could start over in another life, I wouldn’t want to be anything else, anything different. I’ve always wanted to be a writer. (Well, besides when my dream in the fourth and fifth grades was to be a part-time hairdresser, part-time grocery cashier. That phase quickly passed, thank god.)
It all made sense now — high school me was right, “YOLO” really does matter. But maybe in a different way than I’d thought.
“YOLO” used to be something you’d proclaim in a drunken wave of emotion before you ripped back another shot. Before you texted that boy you had a crush on. Before you snuck out of the living room window to meet your friends on the YMCA roof. But that was high school.
This is the real world.
So think about it this way: Yes, you only live once. But, right now, are you doing the thing you’d do not only in this lifetime, but if you had two lives, three, even 10?
Ask yourself if you’d pick this path you’re on if you had a chance to live your life again (and again). Because if you would, then that’s the career path for you.
Take “YOLO” more seriously, but not for the spontaneity of it all (it’s more than just saying f*ck it). It’s about embracing what you truly want to do not just for the risk, but for the passion.
Don’t just pick a job because you might not have a chance to do it again. Pick a career you’d pick a thousand times over.
You really do only live once. So choose to do something you’d do for a million lifetimes.