Life should be anything but ordinary. If every single minute of every single day was planned out for the rest of your life, how would you feel about it? Some of you may prefer it that way, but the essence of life would be stolen. And you probably couldn't stick to all those plans regardless.
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We were lucky enough to end up as life in the world distinguished from inorganic matter. And on top of that, we have the mental capacity to study and understand what the heck that even means. We are ALIVE. So what do you do with this big something of life?
Sure, you can play by the book and keep it safe. Go to school. Pay a large sum of money for the right books and tools to get educated. Maybe, most likely, even accumulate quite a bit of debt before you fully understand what a credit score even is. Work your butt off studying for a degree you aren't sure you even want while working a minimum wage job to feed yourself Ramen.
Deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life at the age of 18 is a pretty big deal. Yet if you say you aren't ready to make that decision at a not-yet legal drinking age, you are given the look of disappointment and immediately labeled as uneducated, ungrateful, or a simple lazy bum. All because your unripened brain couldn't commit to one major to focus on for the rest of your l i f e.
CAPACITY FOR GROWTH
According to a not-so-recent article published by NPR, the parts of the brain involved in critical decision-making are not fully developed until age 25 and in some cases, 30. How the heck are we supposed to commit our lives in debt to a lifelong study of whatever degree the dart lands on before we are truly even capable of choosing between Frosted Flakes or Fruity Pebbles for breakfast?
The trick to feeling like you are making the right and best, greatest decision for your future is simple. Don't. Don't rush into anything that makes you acquire guilt, confusion, or insecurity. If you are doing it for someone else, it's a mistake. Step back and breathe. Contrary to what we are taught from books and school, it's okay to relax and take time for yourself. To just be.
To be able to Learn and Grow, we must first hold ourselves accountable for our own decisions. You went to college because your dad made you? Not buying it, you walked through the door with your own two feet into orientation and signed those papers. You dropped out because life at home wasn't peachy? Nah, you left because you had other priorities in mind. We are the only ones who can be truly held accountable for what we do with our one, precious life.
Life is a sum of all our decisions. And then you have the little bits of surprise and chaos thrown in there that spice up those decisions and might even pull you down a new path altogether.
YOU AREN'T LAZY FOR LIVING
There is always someone out there who will not agree with whatever path life takes you. Your parents are probably just trying to help you avoid the mistakes they made and help you have a better life. Your grandparents just want you to be happy and are likely a little detached from our generation's way of doing things. Anyone else can say whatever they want, but it's up to you to let it get to you and affect decisions you make about your life.
It's okay to not have everything figured out between high school and college. And even after that. Hell, I just turned 28 and am still figuring things out.
Get up and get after whatever it is that makes you feel alive. You will fall, inevitably make mistakes, and you'll get back up and learn from them. And along the way, you will begin to understand who you are and what it is you seek from life. It's a great accomplishment to understand what it is you are actually looking for to start with.
Maybe you will decide to pursue a higher education with confidence in your decision of which degree to get after. Maybe you will travel the world. Maybe you will stay in your home town to be near family, because you will realize the importance of being close to the ones you love. Or maybe you'll say to hell with it and buy a van to live in down by the river.
Whatever it is you decide, it is up to you to be happy and content with the life that spawned from those initial decisions. And I have to say, my initial decision to drop out of school led to some pretty cool outcomes. Not easy by any means. Not ideal. Not preferred or planned. But beautifully chaotic.
Who would have thought? Reproduction is a naturally occurring part of life. It's almost scary to think of the reproduction rate and ever-growing population of our planet, but it's natural and it's why we are here.
The odd-ball chance that you and I ended up with a shot at life in this world is pretty amazing. Pretty spectacular. It should be anything but ordinary. And you can decide what ordinary means to you. For me, it means structured and routines, full of plans, and set dates. All those words make me cringe. There's nothing wrong with plans and structure, but the thought of knowing what I am doing day-to-day for the rest of my life is daunting.
I enjoy the unknown. The surprises of life. But that doesn't mean you have to. I do believe plans have their place and help alleviate stress, especially when you combine into a family.
The picturesque Get a Degree, Get a lifelong job, and Start a family scene that was in all of our elementary school books growing up doesn't always pan out. And the pressure of anything out of that ordinary picture is surreal, because we live in a society that has told us what to do with our lives since we were like 5 years old.
It's okay to think different. You can still contribute to society and have a family in your own creative lifestyle. Screw Stepford.
After you own your responsibility to decide for yourself and create a life worth living, WHAT NOW? Well, you have to take care of yourself. You have to preserve your body and mind and allow them to both develop alongside your direction of life.
There are three essentials that support your Functional Activity: Physical, Social, and Psychological Well-Being.
Keeping up with your physical health can also help maintain mental health. Sweating, breathing hard, and burning cals rids stress hormones and replaces them with endorphins. Cortisol- bad. Endorphins- good. Study up on it here.
What I am getting at is this. You are either a person who loves to be physically challenged or you are not. Maybe you're half-n-half. Either way, you can either create a life that makes physical exercise a priority or you can spend time creating a balance to include physical activity along the outskirts of other priorities.
The same goes for Social and Mental Well-Being. You likely don't just have people knock on the door nightly to conversate about the place the world exists, politics, and state of the nation. Maybe you are that popular. But the rest of us have to make that stuff happen. And if you're anything like me, you run from people and social gatherings altogether. Like physical maintenance, social health also requires a bit of effort and priority placement. Even if just a little bit of effort to meet the Functional Activity levels of life. Join a book club or something that makes you speak to people outside your comfort zone at least once a month.
Mental well-being is the most important of the three but also affected by the others (physical/ social). To be able to make reasonable decisions in your life, you need to provide a healthy environment for your mind to flourish. Try meditating, seriously. It doesn't make you a hippie and will help you grow the ability to be mindful in ways from what you eat to having healthy arguments. A healthy balance of all three Functional Activity essentials is key to living a good life.
We are always changing, and it's great! Even when we try to plan things down to the tee, we are still incapable of completely preventing change. Every single day, we do something different from yesterday. Sometimes it can be scary how similar our Facebook statuses are to those one year ago on that damned Timeline Throwback whatever that we are faced with in the mornings. But nonetheless, we are different and always evolving. Isn't it exciting!?
To be alive and considered life, we must have the capacity for continual change. Hey, if you don't like the path you're headed on, guess what? Time for a change! It is never too late to go back to school, travel the world, or ask that chick on a date (unless she already tied the knot, just make sure it's worth putting yourself out there for). Human beings are always changing and evolving. The technology we have created over the span of 10 years is inconceivable, and we just keep growing our knowledge and capacity to exceed our wildest dreams.
Mark Manson wrote a really cool article here about trying to change yourself. He explains it better than I ever could, so just read it. Change isn't about being or becoming someone you're not; it's about the decisions you make and the actions that follow.
Do something with your life. Let it flow, or don't. Bring your thoughts into actions, and work towards something extraordinary. You only live once, or so they say. Get off the damn couch and go make something of your life!
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