I can’t recall seeing the acronym YOLO (You Only Live Once) for the first time. It feels like I saw it with a caption of a picture of two skinny girls wearing high-waist jean shorts, smoking and laughing as if life was the greatest pleasure one can experience.
I began criticizing these images at the very moment I laid my eyes on them. As a foreign exchange student in my mid-twenties and being a girl living in the U.S. it's hard to believe that cigarettes, parties and being skinny is what YOLO truly means. So I embarked on my informal research by carefully observing young adults living under this philosophy. Within me, I kind of wanted to be a part of it –yes, even when I thought it was as shallow as beauty products advertisements are. Anyway, full disclosure: what I observed amazed me, and subsequently changed my lifestyle.
According to my observations, a lot of 15-20-year-olds think they should cut calories in order to fit in those “cool” you-can-see-my-gap-thigh-shorts Instagramers wear; while others believe that YOLO means indulging in the pleasures of drugs (because… YOLO!), or sleeping with all kinds of humans (because… YOLO!); and finally, the idea of treating your body the wrong way (because… this is my only life as I know it, so YOLO!). I think it’s very sad, but at the same time it can be something positive. It’s sad because they are often unable to identify their YOLOness limit, and therefore they end up causing more harm to themselves. On the bright side, for those who know the fine line between YOLO and I-don’t-respect-my-life, they can develop a beautiful lifestyle based on trial and error.
On the other hand, the YOLO philosophy also showed me pictures and videos of people skydiving, swimming in beautiful oceans, visiting dreamlike places around the world, and accomplishing “relationship goals”. All that can be very pretty, sometimes pricy, and well… most of the time, a bit unreachable for us mortals. And yes, I realized something very precious: you, actually only live once, so you should enjoy it and live it the way you please. However, the YOLO philosophy I live by is a little different than what we see on social media, and it’s such because, to me, what truly matters in life is being able to be yourself, and to be free.
The YOLO philosophy I live by consists in five laws:
- You will enjoy every single day of your life. Whenever you’re sad, get rid of the sadness by fixing the issues (from the roots) and do whatever makes you happy (dancing, family, friends, and nature always work). What is the point of wasting days being sad or angry over something that will eventually evaporate? Everything has a solution, and if it doesn’t, say what Mexicans say: “Se chingó” and move on!
- You will not complain about anything in your life. If you don't like it, change it! If you don't like your body, think of it as the vehicle for your soul, treat it with respect and kindness. If you don't like your job, look for another one, it doesn't have to be an immediate change, but it will happen if you really try. Change everything changeable, and if it's not, love it the way it is. Buddha said: “Happiness consists not in having what you want, but in wanting what you have.”
- Be patient! Don't sow seeds today and come back tomorrow expecting to see a tree. You have to do what it takes to achieve anything you want, and that includes patience. Not every dream is able to become a reality within days, months, or even years. But if your persistent, you will get there with hard work. Work hard and enjoy the journey.
- Love as much as you can. Love yourself, love any spiritual symbol you believe in; love your fellow men and not only that, but show them that you care, and most importantly, don't judge them nor try to change them. Never forget of loving, for that's the main reason why we're here (and the reproductive one, of course).
- Try everything and anything you feel like trying. Enjoy your life. Be courageous, be a fighter, don't fear for failure, I’m sorry to tell you this, but you will indeed fail a lot of times in your life. Smile a lot, be kind, learn how to do favors, and do what you’re passionate about. You only live once, you'd better enjoy the ride.
You may have a different YOLO philosophy and I look forward to reading it. At the end of the day, what matters is what you lived, not what you didn't.