As 2016 comes to a close, we can’t help but look back and think about all the loss that’s taken place in the last year. Just this past week, pop culture icons Carrie Fisher and George Michael have passed away. But even though we’ve seen so many RIPs, we often forget just how precious life is. It’s human nature; we get wrapped up in frivolous day to day minutia and the big picture gets lost. I’m never scrolling through Twitter or Instagram and really feel the sudden urge to go seize the day, although maybe my feeds need to be updated with more interesting people. It usually takes something drastic happening in your life to overcome inertia and actually cross something of your bucket list or start making a drastic life-altering change. Today, I’m here to be that reminder on your feed.
As you’re reading this, I’m in Israel, a place I thought I would never be, ever. At least not by my own volition. The reasons why are embarrassingly neurotic, but mostly have to do with the fact that I often get crippling anxiety at random times in unknown places, and putting myself in a political hotbed so close to the Middle East would be fodder for an anxiety attack I’d never before had to deal with. And you know what? Depending on when you’re reading this, I probably already have had at least one panic attack since I’ve been here. But to quote that kid in We’re the Millers, I have no
ragrets regrets. I’m doing something that scares me, I’m putting myself outside of my comfort zone, and I‘m taking steps to live every day like it could be the last.
I’m not going to get into one of those “woe is me” type pieces about the anxiety disorder I’ve been dealing with for years and usually don’t talk about, but since I’ve been home – paradoxically – the anxiety has been really bad. Maybe it’s from all the stress about trying to get a new job that’ll allow me to move to a cool new city. And then a few months ago, I started having some pretty concerning medical symptoms and it was really difficult to discern if it was all in my head, or if there was something actually going on with me; the anxiety maybe causing the symptoms, perhaps just amplifying them, and for long swaths of time I found myself trying to come to grips with the fact that I had some severe medical condition. In all probability, I’m fine. But that’s not how anxiety makes my brain work; anxiety convinced me I was very sick.
The symptoms, it turns out, have warranted a number of tests that I have scheduled for after I come back from Israel. But the point is, it got me thinking about how life is fragile. I’m not calling for us to all quit our jobs. We’re living in a society, so we still have to go to work and pay taxes. But I am calling for everyone to shake things up just a little bit. Go travel, if that’s something you desire. If you want something, don’t wait. Go and get it. A job? A relationship? A once in a lifetime experience? What the fuck are you waiting for.
Personally, I found myself thinking, “what if I really was sick?” For one thing, I’d start traveling to places I’d always wanted to go, and places I’d never even considered before. And with a free Birthright trip to Israel yet to be cashed in, why not start with a place I know will immediately put me outside my comfort zone. I’ve always been terrified to travel to a corner of the world alone, but I just did it, because honestly who the fuck knows when everything is all going to come crashing down.
In my Saying Goodbye To Boston blog series, a number of you have commented that you also have wanted to move for a while. What the fuck are you waiting for? Fucking move. Maybe it’s not moving. Maybe it’s a drastic career change. Have you always wanted to try stand-up comedy? Don’t be such a wuss, get your ass up on stage and give it a shot. You’ll bomb, that’s pretty much fact, but at least you’re doing something on your bucket list. You’re getting rid of that “what if.” Have you been in love with your best friend for years and never said anything? Tell them. It’ll be terrifying, but what would happen if God forbid they got in an accident tomorrow? Do you want to go the rest of your life with words unsaid always dancing around your head?
Personally, I wanted to travel (look at me, I’m so basic, LOL), but anxiety seemed to prevent me from traveling. But I said “fuck it, life’s short,” so here I am in frickin’ Israel. I’ve also wanted to be a writer for a while at this point, which has only been a revelation only after graduating college. I went to college and got a degree in healthcare, so it’s kind of a pain in the ass that a few years ago I realized that I want to write for a living. What am I going to write? Books, movies, TV shows…I’ll figure it out. But I’m not going to let myself wake up one day when I’m 50 without having actually tried like hell to get published and wonder “what if.” So what am I going to do?
I’ve been teasing where I’m going to move, and I’m still not going to say it outright, but here’s a hint: I’m planning to move to a place where I know I can take high quality writing classes in my free time, make connections, show my work to people who actually know what the hell is good and what isn’t, to truly find out if I can have a career in creativity. So sorry HungoverAF, it’s not Charlotte or Houston.
Life is too short, guys. What’re you waiting for? Why aren’t you doing that thing you’re too scared to do? Start living like you want to, on your terms. Or at least try to. Let 2017 be the year of no regrets..