Lottie, I don’t currently know if this catchphrase will withstand the test of time, but at the moment a whole bunch of 20 somethings are living their lives on the foundation of YOLO. (You Only Live Once.) Which is a good sentiment, except it’s most often heard said at a bar before downing the fourth shot of tequila on a Tuesday night.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this and I don’t want to sound preachy, so will start by saying that yes, last week I went to a theatre evening where one of my plays was read, drank some wine, drank some more, ended up drinking fizz until 4am and made my way home across London at 10am the next morning, having had an awesome time. I treated myself to the day off work and felt no guilt. I don’t do this often anymore, and I needed to let my hair down, it was wonderful, and the following day I was ready to go back at it full steam ahead. But something I’ve learnt is that there’s a lot more to YOLO that Sambuca.
My early twenties were spent mostly partying or hungover. I even wrote the majority of my dissertation whilst drunk. Throwing all else out of the window and drifting in those hedonistic winds, La Vie Boheme (that song from Rent) became my mantra in life. I thought I had it nailed – how to drift through life, not a care in the world, beating the system, I didn’t need to work hard. I didn’t worry about the hangovers (which of course weren’t as bad then) or the messy house, or the fact my days were spent mostly doing nothing other than awaiting the party again the next evening. My university was set in amongst the rolling hills of Devon, surrounded by a permanent cloud of cannabis smoke, an hours walk from the nearest supermarket, always a party to go to, or more often than not, a rave in the woods. I had a wonderful time, and I hold it close in my heart, but also, I had little focus on anything other than the next party, I was setting myself no challenges, didn’t care much abut becoming qualified, only living for the fun and the instant gratification, and in no way for my future. I wish I had have spent more time non-hungover or exhausted: in the countryside, on country walks, swimming in the river or the outdoor pool. I did all of these things, but certainly less than I could have done. I’m not saying this is bad, this was very right for me then, and of course was a part of my journey. I finished uni, and carried on like this for a while, and then one day something changed, I realised partying is fun, but there’s a lot more fulfillment to be found elsewhere.
I guess my point is that yes, sometimes YOLO is downing that fourth shot of tequila on a Tuesday night. But I was thinking this morning that it’s also hauling yourself out of bed at 7am for that morning swim (which you LOVE once you’re up and in the water), it’s making time for that afternoon walk, it’s following your dreams – you want to write that book? Start yesterday! You want to go to pottery classes? Grab that yellow pages. Because I also think YOLO means drawing the very best things in to your life, whether they be great, big things, or small moments.
And now when going for that fourth tequila on a Tuesday night, with a pinch of salt, wedge of lemon and a deafening YOLO, I consider, is this YOLO now affecting my YOLO-tomorrow? Because there’s nothing worse than a hangover on a sunny day. It makes me sad that we live in a culture where YOLO is mostly seen as binge-drinking on a school night, because YOLO is so much more than that, it feels like we missed the point.
YOLO is waking up each morning and thinking ‘Today is my day. Today I’ll be better than I was before.’
YOLO is waking up each morning and remembering ‘I will never be as young again as I am today, so I’ll make this one count.’
YOLO is waking up each morning and thinking ‘Today I will try to make a difference to someone, somewhere.’
YOLO is making the most of each moment, observing as they arrive and pass, being in the NOW.
YOLO is giving yourself the very best shot at the things you deserve, sowing the seeds for your future.
YOLO is so much more that the fourth shot of tequila on a Tuesday night.
Cherished moments at Dartington
To hand-crafted beers
Made in local breweries
To yoga, to yogurt, to rice and beans and cheese
To leather, to dildos, to curry vindaloo
To Huevos Rancheros and Maya Angelou
Emotion, devotion, to causing a commotion
Compassion, to fashion, to passion when it’s new
To anything taboo
Ginsberg, Dylan, Cunnigham and Cage,
To the stage
To Uta. To Buddha. Pablo Neruda, too.
Why Dorothy and Toto went over the rainbow
To blow off Auntie Em
La vie Boheme