My friends and I sat huddled around the restaurant booth, waiting (im)patiently for our food, distracting ourselves with breadsticks and chatter. The conversation had turned to future plans and our travel desires.
“It’s hard to be spontaneous now,” one of us declared, and I agreed fervently as I popped a breadstick into my mouth.
The idea of being spontaneous and “living in the moment” changes once you hit post-grad and becomes increasingly difficult with each passing year.
Things that we once looked forward to as children (bless our hearts) now keep us from being as impulsive in our lives as we might like. Our simple, off-the-cuff years seem behind us and we look back with longing. But, what happens when you realize you didn’t even spend those years with the spontaneity you always dreamed of?
I recently watched Booksmart, the 2019 coming of age film directed by Olivia Wilde. In it, the two protagonists realize on the eve of their graduation that they haven’t had the high school experience they’d hoped for, and attempt to make up for what they’d missed in one night. It gave me a moment to reflect on my life up to this point, and all the things I had missed out on or have yet to do in my twenty five years.
I’ve never been spontaneous.
In my mind I must be, for at any given moment I feel if given the chance I’d throw my phone out the window and move to the ocean somewhere far away. But in my real life I’ve always played it safe- the cautious, careful one. There are plenty of maybe reasons for this: my introverted personality that longs for nights in with Netflix and takeout over a night out, anxiety that presents itself in the least helpful ways at the most inopportune times, or perhaps the most plausible one: a lovely little mixture.
Whatever the reason, it’s left me with so many words unsaid and places unexplored and territories unknown, and with that comes the dreadful thing known as What If.
For each decision made the outcome of whatever we didn’t choose floats in the back our mind, and all of these would-be decisions add up to a kind of ghost life, played out like a movie when we can’t sleep at night, when we’re regretting not going to that social event two years ago, when we’re wondering what we’re doing with our lives.
Have I made the right choices? Been impulsive enough?
Am I living my best life?
It’s interesting, this concept. What constitutes living your best life? Maybe it’s the validation of a life lived through social media likes or maybe it’s saying yes to everything that comes your way. But that’s the thing- there isn’t a right or wrong way to live life. We’re so used to being told we’re on a timeline that we’re afraid that what we’re doing isn’t good enough. That’s when my inner ghost life creeps out and hits my line of vision the most, and I begin to question everything.
Instead of giving into the What If fantasies, I think it’s time we stop asking ourselves if our best life is being lived.
Because you know what? I think it already is.