“Our lives are defined by opportunities, even the ones we miss.” -F Scott Fitzgerald
Not too long ago, I was leaving a parking garage and hopped on the elevator. A guy got on with me, and together we rode to the 5th floor. We made no conversation, but as we exited and parted ways, he held the door for me and said, “You have really pretty hair.” Caught off guard by this unsolicited compliment (see my previous post for a more comical example of this), I quickly said, “Thanks!” and walked to my car.
As I turned on my engine, I was overcome with frustration. Why hadn’t I stopped to talk to that guy in the first place, let alone after he was so kind to me? What prevents us from taking a leap of faith, even one as tiny as starting up a conversation with a stranger?
In my 21 years of existence, I have found that one of the nastiest and most brutal of emotions is doubt. Doubt takes an innocent and inspiring thought and desecrates it; what once was hopeful becomes irrational and absurd.
So how do we stop doubt from squashing ambition? I think that the answer lies with the problem: don’t overthink it. From someone who’s mind never shuts off, I can honestly say that I am always battling my brain. I pick apart and analyze interactions to the point where I forget the initial lightheartedness and only focus on the negative. The “what if’s” and “how come’s” and “suppose’s” are relentless and exhausting, which is why it’s so important to be present in the moment.
Instead of being critical of the circumstances, just go for it. There will never be an ideal moment for anything. Nothing ever goes according to plan. So why wait for perfection when we are already given so many chances to make our lives a little more interesting?
Going into our Senior year, my roommates and I decided to adopt a “YOLO” mindset. Mock it all you want (because let’s be real, You Only Live Once is a pretty dumb saying), but I’m very glad that we are conscious of the fact that our time together is limited. While it’s been harder to maintain than we anticipated — commitments like school and organizations and work make it somewhat difficult to take a spontaneous road trip in the middle of the week — I’m just grateful that we are trying to live more in the moment. Because that’s all you can really do when faced with an opportunity: try.