The renowned country artist, Tim McGraw, once wrote a song called “Live Like You Were Dying.” This song is written from the perspective of a narrator who tells his tale of visiting a dying man in the hospital and asking him what he did knowing he would die soon. The man responded, “I went skydiving, Rocky Mountain climbing, and I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named Fumanchu. I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter. I gave the forgiveness that I’ve been denying.”
Upon hearing this song my sophomore year in high school, something in my heart was triggered and the words spoke to me. These were the dreams I had of living fearlessly but hadn’t actually done. It was this same year that I declared to myself that I would live wholeheartedly and be proactive in the pursuit of creating my life. After all, We are given the whole earth, with all of its beauty, opportunities, and magnitude and we get to choose what we do with it. We only have a finite amount of time. It would be a shame if I didn’t take advantage of every moment and every blessing I was given. I know it sounds cliche, but I can now say that between age 15 in my sophomore year of high school, and being 19 as a freshman year of college, I have gone skydiving, I have gone Rocky Mountain climbing, and I road a mechanical bull for 2.8 seconds.
This change in mindset is the spark that was needed to motivate me to live my life, not just exist. I now look outside my window overlooking Charleston and see possibilities of the day ahead of me rather than tasks I need to check off my list. I’m not saying everyone should go jump out of a plane, but the mindset of fearless living is one that I try to embody and share. I want everyone to experience this feeling of “yolo.” I’m writing this letter to my 15-year-old self and hopefully those who have had similar struggles with anxiety and hesitations as I have. Bellow, I have deciphered what I believe are 5 essential components I would have told my past self that I’ve learned of fearless living.
Dear 15-year-old Audrey,
As you have begun high-school, I know you have entered a new world. Being an underclassman can be daunting, and I know high school is giving you a lot of anxiety. I want you to know that you are deserving/ fully capable of a life full of adventure, love, and success. Though there will be times in which you are challenged and nervous, I want to provide you with the insight I now have been a freshman in college. I want you to look up the song “Live Like You Are Dying” by Tim McGraw and see what you can take away from listening to it. Until then, I am providing you with the advice you can use as a catalyst to begin your journey of a fearless life.
1. be vulnerable & take risks
Get outside your comfort zone! Whether that is riding that scary rollercoaster, telling the person you’ve been crushing on how you feel, or applying for a challenging AP that you might challenge you. Though rejection and failure are some of our greatest fears, it is impossible to feel and live to your full capacity without vulnerability. One of your favorite authors once said in a book you will read called Daring Greatly,
Life is a continuous Adventure of uncertainty and vulnerability, you can do it!
2. establish what you want to accomplish / who you want to be
Seek what you are looking for instead of waiting Think of it like a bucket list. Once you have acknowledged what it is you want to do and who it is you want to be, you can start taking steps in your everyday life to successfully reach your goals. I have learned that you can’t have a perspective of “I want to be this kind of person” or “one-day I would like to do this.” To embody your ideas, you have to make them a lifestyle. What you do each morning contributes to molding you and your path.You get a certain amount of time on this earth. The amount of time, actions during this time, placement of this time, as well as the energy released during this time. Give it all you have.
Love deeper, speak sweeter. Find time in every day to acknowledge the people in your life who you have been blessed with and tell them how you feel right away. Be kind, give more than you get, smile at everyone you see, and say thank you. Find/prioritize the people in your world who deserves your time and energy. Understand that not everyone can be this kind of person for you and you cant waste precious time trying to fix them. Don’t give more than one is willing to provide you, it won't fulfill you. Prioritize those who lift you up, but never forget to prioritize yourself. It is OKAY to be selfish sometimes. Find time every day to freeze in the fast-paced world around you and breath. Read a book, talk to a friend, watch a movie, go for a run, look up at the beauty you live in.
4. forgive others, but also yourself
Give forgiveness you have been denying. This forgiveness also includes you. You are allowed to be both a masterpiece and a work in progress, simultaneously.It's all connected; your gifts, your circumstance, your purpose, your imperfections, your journey, embrace it, don’t let it hold you back. We get so mad at ourselves for the mistakes we make in our lives, but we forget to recognize that our mistakes have molded us. Nothing would be the same if we hadn't made these mistakes. Everyday shows a new array of lessons, and you will experience more down the road. Being able to forgive yourself will lead you to have the empathy to forgive others. No one is innocent and we all mess up. Learn to be gentle with yourself and others.
5. never, ever limit yourself
I think a lot of times we have this idea in our head that for some reason, we are less. We are mesmerized by other’s experiences and think “I want to do that one day” but we fear that we, ourselves could never do it. The reality is we were all born boundless. We limit our relationships because we don’t think we are enough. We don’t go to church because we think we are sinners, we don’t try out for the team because we don’t think we will make it, or we settle for a job that we don’t love. You are the only one who is limiting yourself. Do not let it happen.
To sum this whole letter up in a sentence, go do it. It is never too late to be vulnerable, forgive, and be fearless in the pursuit of your goals.
P.S., when you are 18, you will go skydiving. Before jumping out of the plane, your tandem instructor will make a statement that I want you to think about. “Don’t forget to look up at the horizon. It goes by so fast and you don’t want to miss it.”
From the wise words of Tim McGraw, “and he said someday I hope you get the chance, to live like you were dying.”
Audrey Reed Hall