Living Like You Were Dying
Posted on 23 February 2011
“One day your life will flash before your eyes. Make sure it’s worth watching.” ~Unknown
A professor once told my class, “In order to live your life to the fullest, you must think about your death every day.”
At the time, I felt too busy to think about my death because I was consumed with law school applications and endless deadlines. But the words came creeping up to haunt me one day.
After I graduated, I moved to Boston to work at a law firm downtown before attending law school the following year. I wanted to be a lawyer because I thought it would be a lucrative, challenging career, allowing me to live what I thought would be a “fulfilled life.”
At first, I was thrilled to be a full-time employee at a law firm, but as time passed, I realized that it didn’t make me happy. And I was surprised. For so long I thought it was what I was meant to accomplish. It was hard to consider that perhaps it wasn’t the right path for me.
I just wasn’t happy at my job. I felt like I was missing the days and living for the weekends. I worked eleven hours a day, I never saw my friends, and my relationship was crumbling.
I expressed this issue to many of my coworkers, and most of them said something along the lines of, “That’s life.”
Still, I felt certain the “real world” didn’t have to make me feel so unhappy and unfulfilled. I also knew that it might be hard to change directions, but if I didn’t, I would never feel any different.
Suddenly, like a ton of bricks, my professor’s words came to me, and for the first time I thought about death.
Immediately, I thought of my Uncle David who died when I was younger. David was living in Los Angeles, pursuing a career as an actor. When I reached middle school, he died of AIDS. He was thirty-eight years old.
Being young, I had always thought about how his death affected my family, particularly my grandmother, but I’d never thought too much about what things were like for him before he died.
In retrospect, I imagine he felt he was living his life fully, even though it got cut short. He had found the courage to use his time to do what he really loved.
Any of our lives can be cut short without warning—but we can decide whenever we want to use our time to reach for our dreams. That’s a fulfilled life.
Looking back, I realize I’d doubted my choice to go to law school, but I was afraid that if I didn’t see it through, I would have wasted a lot of time. What crazy logic, when you think about it: To avoid admitting I’d wasted time, I was willing to keep on wasting it.
Once I realized I wanted to make a change, the next step was to start dreaming. That was the easy part. Since I was in high school, I wanted to start a company called How to be a Redhead with my sister, Stephanie.
It would begin as an online community for redheads with future plans of a beauty line. The two of us have always had a very special connection. It could be that we’re both feisty, spunky, natural-born redheads, but we believe it goes deeper than that.
We believe our mission in life is to do something together, as one. And that’s just what we did.
My first step was to leave the law firm. It was one of the easiest decisions in my life because right then I didn’t have a single reservation, not even about the financial risk. I knew I only needed my sister’s support and my belief in what we can do together.
Suddenly, our best friends rallied around us to help.
Photographers, wardrobe stylists, hair stylists, artistic directors, business entrepreneurs, and web designers all came together for us. I never would have imagined we’d have this type of support, and I wouldn’t have known until I asked for it.It was amazing!
Though the future is uncertain, I now feel energized and alive when I wake up, knowing I am doing something I love with someone I love.
I imagine my Uncle David would be proud because we are living our lives following his courageous lead.
If you find yourself in a place where your days feel mundane or you feel unfulfilled:
Think about that inevitable moment when you’re looking back on your life.
It gives you a better perspective what’s really important. Suddenly, it’s less about what you feel you should do and more about what you really want to do with the time you have.
Take time to reflect.
When I was struggling with my job and the choice to attend law school, I meditated and practiced yoga daily to reflect on the areas of my life I wanted to improve. These exercises helped me gain the strength and courage to make a major change in direction.
Follow your intuition and listen to that little voice inside of you.
It is there for a reason. Life can be a gift, but it’s one we need to give to ourselves.
Photo by bing bing.
About Adrienne Vendetti
Adrienne Vendetti is the co-founder of How to Be a Redhead, a website that strives to make every redhead feel beautiful. Adrienne and her sister, Stephanie teach women to love theirlooks with recommendations for hair, skin, make-up, clothing, and more. Follow How to Be a Redhead on Twitter or "like" How to Be a Redhead on Facebook.