Listening to the Tug: Live This Life Fully

Ever feel like you hear the same comment, same conversation, same idea constantly? It’s like a scratched record is playing in your head, stuck on the same spot, replaying over and over and over in your head. You can’t seem to escape from it. You get frustrated and try to ignore it, but like a fly, it buzzes right back into your face, even after you swat it away.

That’s because it is something you are supposed to hear. It is something you are supposed to learn. To realize. To embrace. Stop swatting it away and listen.

Over the past few weeks, conversations with my friend Jake—someone who is adamant about living a life embracing passion over convention—always seemed to revolve around the same idea of only having this one life and needing to live fully in that life: embrace every moment, every chance, every opportunity. He told me I’d better not chance it. We are only guaranteed today. This summer I made the decision to live fully.  I embraced a moment, a chance and resigned from my job without a backup plan, took my nutrition seriously, and began to really examine who I wanted to be in my passions.

For years I had lived a life of supposed what ifs, safety nets, and waits of anticipation. I chose to look back, grasping onto the past (a misconstrued longing for it to change, as if it could) or look too far into the future that I failed to see the potential of a thriving life right in front of me. I lived my life based on my doubts and what others made me believe about myself. I questioned my life constantly, burrowing deeper and deeper into a world that I thought would fulfill me because it was the “acceptable” thing for me to do, but instead of filling me up, it actually drained me, depriving me of my true life, my true passions. What’s the point of that kind of living? The kind of living that makes you feel suffocated, grasping for strength and a breath daily. Instead we should be living a life where we can breathe strength into the day, not requiring us to send out a search party for that strength. A life that at the end of the day, we can say, “That was a day I lived fully”,  not one lying awake with regrets, doubts, and insecurities ransacking our heads.

A couple years ago, I started to feel that tug. The tug to embrace that kind of life, the kind where I live for each moment as it comes. However, I brushed it aside, too scared to step off the ledge. I was taught to plan for unexpected, plan for future moments, don’t stray from the “five year” track. Unfortunately, with that mindset came lots of missed potential and lack of appreciation for the moments I experienced on a daily basis. Turns out, my attempt to avoid regrets by living in the safety of the future and living based on what other people expected of my life bred the environment to form regrets in the present. Regret was unavoidable because I wasn’t living my life by my own definition. I brushed the tug aside because releasing that grip would leave me with nothing (or so I thought). Ignoring the tug dragged me deeper into an unhealthy mindset and lifestyle. Believing that holding onto something unhealthy for me was better than not having anything at all defined my life. I know this relationship isn’t good for me, but I’ll stay involved with him because it is better than being alone. I know I shouldn’t continue this bad habit, but I’d rather feel the negative pull than grasp for the positive with a hand of fear for rejection. I know this job is detrimental to my physical and mental health, but I’ll continue working because I have bills to pay.  Why do we chose to remain in the negative force dragging us down to an unhealthy state?

As mentioned in previous posts, I let the fear control everything. Fear hinders a full life. Fear collects the tug we feel for something more and places it in the shoebox collecting dust on the back shelf of our closet, hoping we forget about it. But my tug. It kept nudging me because I needed to make a change, but I wasn’t willing to budge. I continued to get in the same kinds of relationships, same type of work, same type of habits because I wasn’t willing to live fully in the life I had; I was focused on a life created for me by someone else. Then I finally asked myself the question that I refused to allow my inner self to explore. The one question that would counter my entire existence in my “what ifs” and “waiting anticipation” lifestyle.

What is the point of letting other people define my life?

My conversations with Jake helped me realize that I needed to escape my “My time will come, I just have to be patient and wait” attitude. I was done letting other people and factors define my life. Jake doesn’t live a life of backup plans and expectations; he doesn’t live a life that waits for the next day. He lives a life that he defines. I learned a few things through our conversations.

  1. We are only guaranteed this moment, don’t waste your chance by living for the future you. Now, I’m not saying throw caution to the wind and ignore everything about your future. Just make sure you aren’t so focused with making your future matter that you neglect to make now matter. Sometimes we get so caught up in directing our future to work for us, we miss out on opportunities now. I used to have a calculated response to the question, “Where do you see yourself in 5 years? In 10 years.” I would say what I thought was expected of me in the moment.  I would see the look of satisfaction and approval on the inquirer’s face, yet within me remained a residual longing for something more. My responses lacked sincerity because I was so invested in what I thought should define me—gaining approval of others, social status, security. My responses lacked sincerity because I was allowing someone else to define my life. When I decided to live fully in this one life I have, my outlook changed on this question. Where do I see myself in 5 years? In 10 years? Living my life for my passion, helping others, and choosing happiness in whatever avenue I travel.
  2.   If an idea pops up in your head, go for it! Don’t toss it aside. We live for logic. We live for planning. We live for practicality. Dreamers are considered outcasts, brushed to the side. Their capabilities doubted by everyone surrounding them. We all have ideas, passions, goals, dreams we want to achieve in our lives, but so often, we ignore them for the logical outcome instead. We ignore our passions and dreams, investing in a life others tell us needs to happen, and we live out our lives in a comatose state. Stop letting standards others set determine your ideas. Throughout my early adult life, I allowed other people’s perspectives and ideas overpower my own. If someone said it was dumb or told me I would fail or tell me it would be impossible to accomplish, I’d take the easy way out, ignoring my passion and dream. I let others create a dream for me. Instead of focusing on people that overpower you, surround yourself with the people that will help you explore your ideas. When I made the decision to start my own business, I made sure to set time aside to meet with Jake, my friends Rachel and Liz, my dad, my sister, and a variety of other people—all people I knew would help me navigate all the ideas swarming in my head, providing questions and feedback, helping me discover starting points. I made sure to surround myself with these people because I knew they would fuel my ideas, not dismiss them. When you have an idea, don’t just toss it aside out of fear of others shutting you down. Find the people, like I did, that will help you bring your ideas to fruition instead of killing them.  Get out of the passenger seat and drive. Listen to those who are willing to sit in the passenger seat while you drive.
  3. Stop living in the mindset of an “enough” end goal. Have you ever caught yourself making those “enough” statements? You know, the ones like “If I just lose these last 10 pounds, that will be enough for now.” “If I just work enough, I’ll be happy.”  “If I just work hard enough to get this Master’s degree, it will be enough”. When making these statements, we don’t realize that once we reach that end goal of “enough”, it isn’t actually enough. We take a good, hard look at ourselves and think, “Huh, I accomplished that, why am I not happy? I should be happy now.” We are left feeling empty, unsatisfied, and like complete failures. Our “enough” isn’t enough because we didn’t choose to take the time to examine what our hearts truly wanted. Most of the time our “enough” is created based on comparing our own lives to those around us. We see someone else accomplishing something great, so we must as well. “If I could just be like so-and-so, that will be enough”…that statement is the root statement to the rest of our “enough” comments. This creates a barrier between ourselves and our potential to grow in the moment. It makes it impossible for us to create our own life. This mindset is a future focused life instead of a living fully in the moment life. It triggers the need to have others define our lives. When we truly examine our motives and reasons, there is only one “enough” statement that should be the catalyst for our mindset. I am enough. Embracing this “enough” statement is what will allow us to fully thrive every day.

Be you.                                                                                                                            

Be you in each and every moment.                                                             

Be you each day so you can live fully in the one life you have.

Embracing that you are enough is what will allow you to look at yourself when you finally reach an accomplishment and smile instead of question it.  I know I am not alone in this. I know we all feel the tug to live a better, healthier life, but it is up to us to take the chance and step out of our comfort zone, release the grip, and learn to experience life every single day. We shouldn’t want to live a life that others define for us. We shouldn’t want to live a life focused on “what ifs” and waiting for our turn (when that future isn’t guaranteed to us). We shouldn’t want to live a life where we look back and wish for something different. We only have one life, so let it be your own. Live it fully, and thrive in that.

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