You can ruin your life without even knowing it. You begin sinking so slowly you don’t even realize it.
This Spring Break has been one for the books. In the back of my head, I thought to myself, “this is my last Spring Break ever“. You’d think I’d be sinking my toes into warm, crisp sand or raising my glass for another round or tumbling down cobblestone streets in a foreign country (all memories from past Spring Breaks). But instead, I turned down a free trip to Thailand (elephant riding and scuba diving included) because I cherish my heart song. I turned down a clubbing trip to Vegas because I recognize the disguised experiences of regret. It is not destinations or pearly white smiles in a camera flash that pull me. I’ve been there. I’ve grown to know myself. And it’s my hushed moments with a close friend that pulls at me. It’s the tumble of my stomach when those big, blue eyes and open starfish hands raise up that pull at me. It’s the quiet afternoons nestled in the mountains surrounded by my family, with a spoonful of ice-cream, Mad Men, and two dogs nuzzled right beside me that pulls at me.
I had a priceless moment of silence. As my ballooned, pregnant sister teetered up the stairs for a nap, I listened for my sleeping nephew and the rain pattering outside. In that quiet moment, with a long, deep breath, I was grounded again. I am here.
You ruin your life by allowing your flame to dim. You are not for everyone. Your soul was built with a bright, sparkly gem like the ones you always held in the stores as a child, with a sharp edge and a cracked corner. You have love inside of you that will push you to care for the world, and others will disprove and argue. You will fall deeply in love with people and ideas and dreams, and you will be misunderstood. You will laugh too loudly and overreact and lay awake worrying about strangers you see in grocery stores. For that, protect yourself. Be grateful. Rejoice in your differences.
You ruin your life by living days that are boxes to be checked. Venture outside of these lines. Find passion, find bliss, find the small details that no one notices. Complete your work, then relish in the moments where you notice the steam dissolve in the cold air while their flushed cheeks smile at you. Appreciate each day the sun makes an appearance and soak your toes in the grass. Feel the thrill of trying something for the first time, and smile at the scrapes you earn along the way.
You ruin your life by living through a screen. Get off Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter. The people on the other side of the screen are as invested as the effort to tap a finger. They will talk about movies and work, but they won’t tell you how that song makes them sentimental because it reminds them of their mother, or describe the smells of their childhood home when their mother and father danced to oldies in the kitchen. These souls are the rare breed. But I urge you to wait for them. Embrace yourself until you find them. Be alone. Eat alone, take yourself on dates, dance alone. In the midst of the unsettling feeling of another night in an empty bed, you will learn about yourself. You will grow, you will figure out what inspires you, and when you do meet the person who makes your cells dance, you will be sure of it, because you are sure of yourself. Choose to love yourself with every sunrise, despite relationship status or good morning texts. You will find within yourself a deep, foundational kind of confidence that will surge through your bones and magnetize others glowing with the same liberation.
You ruin your life by desensitizing yourself. We are taught to harden our shells to the world, to care less so we don’t appear crazy, to value appearances over experiences. How many days have been wasted behind you because you didn’t give someone your raw self, your 100%? Where would you be if you laughed too loudly, cared too deeply, told your mother how much you loved her in front of your friends, excused yourself to have a conversation that ended up lasting all night, wore that shirt that only you admire? Find freedom in your expression, and never be afraid to tell that person how much you truly care.
You ruin your life by allowing yourself to sink a little more every day. Don’t settle for less than your desires. Don’t be surrounded by people helping tug you down. Find that rare breed standing on solid ground, ready to pull you up.
“Be fearless in the pursuit of what sets your heart on fire.”