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Listen to Your Grandmother… and Do It While You’re Young

You're Only Young Once

I’ve been given a lot of advice in my life, some of it good and some of it not so good–almost all of it I’ve never listened to.

However, one thing that always stuck with me are words from my grandmother. It’s a very simple rule of living; she always tells me to “do it while you’re young.”

I’m doing it right now, as I shove forkfuls of dense chocolate cake into my mouth as I desperately scramble these notes at work on a grey afternoon. I know I shouldn’t eat the cake, but I do it anyway. I’m almost absent minded as I do it, kind of an automated way of seizing the day.

I guess I’ve always applied this to my life, whether subconsciously or deliberately. When I was younger, I would flit away handfuls of cash on frivolous things that I knew I didn’t need, but wanted. After all, I would only get that opportunity to spend it, before I had responsibilities like cars and rent. I was very young, because as soon I was 18 I paid for all my own needs like a phone bill, my car and food, although my parents were always generous if I was ever short on cash.

In hindsight, disposable income could have helped me. I could have put it all away for a rainy day, and  had less financial emergencies later on. However, whenever I have tried to plan ahead, it usually backfired. So really, I don’t regret spending the money I had. It taught me at a young age that putting pennies aside does matter, or else you quite literally pay the price.

Your early twenties are also the time for you to travel the land unknown. You go before you’re sick, before the decay, and before the age where you can do nothing else except wish you had done it while you were young. You travel before children, and maybe before love. I feel like we should all wander crystal infused dreamlands, explore white sands, and get lost in skyscrapers.

You’re only young once, and it’s the most clichéd thing I’ve ever heard. But it’s the truth.

Then there are our relationships. Your twenties are when you learn what to compromise, and what to lose completely. You let yourself get broken, even if you break yourself.  You break a heart, and have yours blackened entirely. These are the years where we can be lost, or hurt and can still make it beautiful, and still make it worth it.

You need to experience the complicated faux pas and awkward morning afters. You need those sad closed chapters and the abruptness of half finished stories. You need to demand to feel the humiliation, desperation, and glorious moments of love.

You’ve all heard the cliches, that life is a rollercoaster. I would say that it’s almost true. With a rollercoaster, you can anticipate when the drop is about to hit, and you can feel the ascent into sky. You know your stomach is about to fall and fear will gather with the wind in your throat, but you’re prepared.

Youth is more like cotton candy and arcade jingles, it’s like sweet adrenaline and ghost trains. It leaves you laughing and lonely, or eager to do it all over again. I remember the first few years of my twenties as many things. I remember it as careless adventures and lost causes, and I remember crimson lips and salt water streaked across pink cheeks. I remember it as a time I made the biggest mess of myself, but the time I learned to put it all back together.

The difference between life and a rollercoaster, is you know when the latter is going to end. It could end tomorrow, so why live a life that you don’t enjoy even if it’s reckless? As for the fairground of youth, there are no benchmarks for adulthood anymore, and it’s not time to get off the ride yet. You might as well get comfortable.

Keep living a life that surprises you, because if there’s one sure thing in this world it’s that if you don’t, the universe will let you settle for the sorrow of mediocrity.

About the Author

Shelley Phillips

Shelley holds a B.A. in Media Studies from Swansea University, Wales. She enjoys keeping up with a critiquing TV shows, blogging, American politics, and baking snicker doodles. She hopes to one day work as a journalist.