Advice Column: Stop waiting for extraordinary things to happen

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A sunrise. Image courtesy of Unsplash.

If there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that our lives often pass by us in a blur that leaves us wondering how we ended up where we are, without a clue as to how we got there. We can get so caught up in the habits of our daily lives that we actually forget to live and instead just exist.

Existing in and of itself is still a beautiful thing. You are here, you are aware, you are moving and breathing and thinking – but do you care? Are you really living the life you’ve always wanted to live? Sometimes it is all we can do to just exist, when stress and pain and hurt creep into the edges of our minds and it’s all we can do to go through the motions, but living takes everything we have.

Our lives are actually pretty short when you think about it, and because we have been socialized to believe that in order to have a fulfilled life we have to go to school, work for a decent salary to keep up with the ever rising cost of life and pop out a couple of babies to keep our legacies rolling, we get lost. I get it, I do. But is that the only way to live life? Is that not just existing?

That pathway of life works for a lot of people, but I want meaning from my life. I don’t want to just exist, I want to leave this world having lived a meaningful and experienced life. I don’t want to wake up in 30 years, having whisked through life and think, “Is this really what I should’ve been doing the whole time?” I doubt you do either.

I’m sure you’ve seen all the great influential people that do supposedly extraordinary things, and think, “How can I do that? I’m not that great. I don’t have the means. I just can’t ever do that.” And then you don’t. But the thing is, you are capable of extraordinary things, as we all are. Your definition of extraordinary doesn’t have to be a conventional definition, and it can change. Stop waiting for extraordinary things to happen to you, and instead start doing extraordinary things. Take control of your life – you’re capable of a lot more than you would think.

Last year, I lost five people that I was very close to. To be honest, it was the hardest year of my life. I had never had to grieve before, and suddenly, grief consumed my entire life. Throughout the whole experience, I realized that I hadn’t really been doing anything extraordinary. My life could so quickly be ripped away and what had I done? Sure, I’ve done some things that society would believe were extraordinary or great, but was I satisfied?

Losing loved ones taught me how to strengthen my heart and encouraged me to start striving to live a meaningful life, not just for them, but for me as well. To live an extraordinary life that would make them proud, and not just in a conventional sense.

So, get out there. Go to that coffee shop you’ve always wanted to go to, but always told yourself you didn’t have the time. Start planning that mountain hike you’ve always dreamed of, even if you don’t have the money now. Prepare to travel the world. Work in the job you’ve dreamed of but everyone told you was unattainable.

Stop thinking that extraordinary things will happen to you if you just wait for them and start making every day extraordinary and believing that what you’re doing is extraordinary. Even if it’s just making yourself macaroni and cheese at the end of a long day when all you want to do if pass out and ignore all your responsibilities – like I do quite often. Make yourself proud and be extraordinary, in whatever way you can. It doesn’t need to be facilitating world peace, but maybe it could be. Who knows? I guess you’ll have to find out.

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