People always tell us to live our lives to the fullest, to live as if each day is the last, and to jump off our comfort zones and do something different. Because of this thought, most of us believe that living our lives to the maximum meant a life filled with extraordinary and luxurious journeys, unusual life ventures and lots of travel. One could simply judge that a life packed with just as much adventure like that is indeed an exciting life.
Then I wondered that out of the 7 billion people living in this world, how many are really living their lives to the fullest?
We’ll never know, but if you base it on the criteria that we believe in, billions might not make the cut. What did it mean to me? I remember growing up, always looking at maps. I knew I wanted to travel the world. I also pictured myself working for one big company, spending without even looking at price tags, and going on trips that no one’s ever been (Patagonia-Antarctica kind of visions). For a moment when I was young, I pictured that life as what it meant to live your life like it’s the last. I felt that you have to reach for your wildest dreams and take huge chances. Of course, it’s ideal to dream big and aim high. But years later I asked myself, is this what it really meant to live your life to the fullest?
It became a huge question. It wasn’t just about me anymore. It was about everyone living in this world. It became about the people who doesn’t live like I do. I wondered: what about the people who have little access to what we think is the norm? Let’s say, a young man from a remote town striving to finish his studies in a public school and actually making it. Still, he can’t go out and see the world because it’s expensive and the proximity of where he is isn’t very likely to be reached by easy access. Or how about a teen mom struggling for ends to meet and not really having a chance to get out there but is still happy because she is able to raise a kid with good manners and a positive outlook in life. Their situation can be cruel, but does that mean they are not happy with what they have?
Think about it. What about the people who are incapable of paying for a trip, or a new house, or even people who are remotely impossible to do things? Does that make their lives a little less exciting than those who can afford more? Does it mean that their lives are not lived in full swing?
Proximity sometimes plays a role in reaching for a dream. For people who are living in big cities, it can be easier for them to pursue a goal, but that doesn’t mean it is impossible for those who are living far from the big city. It can be a challenge. It’s actually a real challenge for them, but having said that doesn’t mean that they can’t live fully in their own ways.
Of course, anyone who lives by adventures, luxuries and much travel are definitely living their lives with sheer excitement, but just because someone isn’t doing as much as someone else, doesn’t mean they are missing out in life. Everyone is different. We all live in different environments. We all have different worlds, and different capabilities. Even the less fortunate can definitely live their lives to the fullest, and it doesn’t always have to be about going out of the country or working with big-time pay. Just being happy with what you do and who you are and who you’re with— that could already be a very good life for some people. That could mean they are already living their lives to the fullest.
So what does it really mean to live your life to the fullest? Ask yourself. Are you taking chances? Are you following your dreams? Are you doing what you love? Are you happy? Being able to do what you are passionate about even in the simplest manner is an indicator that you are doing something good in life even if it isn’t as big as others.
Being able to conquer your fears can be a sign of living fully. You know how you always dreaded to speak in public but years later you were able to shake the fear off? It means that you did something for yourself and it made you a better person. Most importantly, it improved a big part of your life. Or maybe you were able to give your parents a good life after years of struggling in school and at a dead-end job, and you made them proud of whom you have become. Isn’t this what it truly means to live life to the fullest? Sometimes, we keep trying to compare the outcome of our lives to the people around us and we tend to forget that we have different stories to tell. Because we have different capabilities, we should try to beat our own limitations and not anyone else’s. A financially-stable person can do more but you can do a lot to in your own way, too.
Remember, no matter where you’re from, you can do beautiful things. You can live life to the extreme. Anyone can be happy with where they are and what they have. It’s just a matter of appreciation and contentment.
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big— because everyone should strive for what they deserve, but don’t beat yourself up for not living up to what other people are achieving, because you have your own story to tell, and that is more than enough to accomplish in a lifetime.