You’re one of two people right now. Either your life is boring and completely unremarkable, or it’s the greatest story every told, followed by an unfathomable number of people who just want to be you. You’re a slave to monotony, or you’re the star of the world, the person who amazing things just happen to.
You’re not allowed to be anyone else.
Sometimes monotony seems like the better option, because after enough time, you start to believe the extremes that people like to put the world into. Either your life is boring because you live in the same town you’ve always lived in and you go to the same job every day and you eat the same food every day and you see the same people every day, or your life is incredible and crazy and magnificent because you spend your life hiking mountains and traveling the world and sleeping on beaches and kissing strangers.
There’s no in-between. You’re not allowed to have a calm, normal, enjoyable life that is also exciting and lively and full of stories. You’re not allowed to consider yourself daring or adventurous or brave or interesting if you aren’t running around the globe or partying at exclusive clubs or maintaining a casual Twitter following of fifty thousand people.
You’re not allowed to be a cozy homebody who still sometimes loves to be spontaneous, and you’re not allowed to be a thrill seeker who also sometimes just wants to spend a little time in one place, relaxing with loved ones.
Your life is either consistently insane and moving at a million miles an hour, or your life is dull. Colorless. Ordinary.
These are exaggerated, over-the-top descriptions, yes. But often, that’s the way that life feels sometimes – like you have to be one type of person or the other. The unhappy, boring person living a life that is monotonous and safe, or the incredibly happy person whose life is one gigantic story that the world is desperate to hear.
But in reality, we are are all mystifyingly complicated, we are all unbelievably unique. Each one of us is living a story that no one else on this Earth has ever lived before. Each one of us is capable of living a brave and curious and exciting life that can also be boring at times. We’re all human, we’re all mortal, and that means that sometimes, we have days that are ordinary. We have days that are forgettable. We have days where nothing interesting happens. We have days where we did nothing to change the world.
That doesn’t mean your life is meaningless.
It seems that in order to live a life that is noteworthy, we have to be parachuting out of planes every other day. If we’re not constantly doing things people want to talk about, it means we are failing to live life, failing to experience the incredible feeling of being alive.
But what we’re failing to recognize is that we are all doing remarkable things every day. Jumping out of a plane is remarkable. So is quitting your job and moving across the country, or traveling the world and living out of a backpack for several months. But these are not the only things that make you brave. These are not the only things that signify that you’re living your life right. These are not the only things that give your life meaning.
Your life is also remarkable because of the little, quiet moments that you experience and the seemingly insignificant things you do on an ordinary, uneventful day. When you first tell someone you love them, without knowing if they love you back. When you get chewed out at work and then get up the next day and go back anyway, even though you’d rather stay under the covers. When you sign up for a class about something that interests you, even though you know there’s a chance you’ll be bad at it.
Sometimes it seems like whatever we do is irrelevant, unless it causes a wave so big that people can’t ignore it. But what we have to remember is that most of the time, a huge wave is caused by an infinite number of supposedly unimportant things that normal people do every day.
Everything starts small, but that doesn’t mean that it’s insignificant. Maybe you will never singlehandedly solve poverty, but that doesn’t mean that buying a cup of coffee for the homeless person out on the sidewalk doesn’t make a difference. You can’t necessarily give this person a home or fix their life, but you can acknowledge that they are a person, you can acknowledge that they have dignity, and you can remind them that they matter.
You don’t have to change the world in order to have a meaningful life. You don’t always have to do things that are extreme and unbelievable and outside of the norm in order to feel alive. You can feel alive just by acknowledging your own worth and the worth of everyone around you. You can feel alive by trying new things and keeping your mind open and sharing your heart and reminding everyone around you that they matter.
It doesn’t matter if you’re doing these things at the top of Machu Picchu or right in your own kitchen. As long as you’re doing.