While I was out of state with my family during Spring Break, we went on a hike. The trail was muddy, but wide enough to be used as a road by the very brave 4x4 truck owners. On our way up the trail we hardly noticed a sign prohibiting vehicles on a branching path, but we definitely noticed it on our way back! A huge truck had gotten stuck in the mud all the way up to its headlights! We were laughing and wondering “What were they thinking?”
The truck driver might have thought that they were the exception to the rule and that their truck would be fine in the mud. They might have thought that their macho truck had handled mud puddles almost as deep as that before and that they would be fine. A lot of us respond to rules that way, especially teenagers to rules from their parents. Teenagers often think that the rule doesn’t apply to them and they know their strength and abilities and will be fine.
This type of risk taking is demonstrated in the concept “YOLO!”, an acronym for “You Only Live Once,” a phrase usually used to justify doing something stupid. This concept is popular among teens when we make decisions. The rash, “living in the moment” choice usually seems more fun. We say “YOLO” as a means of justifying our decision or breaking rules. For example, at the movies last week my mom asked if I wanted extra butter on our popcorn. I replied, “YOLO! Let’s go for it!”
The term YOLO isn’t always a bad thing! After thinking about it, I realized that it sums up an important truth: because we only have one life we need to spend it the best way we can. Instead of using it as an excuse to do something stupid, I often use it as motivation. In the movie “We Bought a Zoo” one of the characters says, “Sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage and I promise you something great will come of it.” Several times I’ve been trying to do something good like meet new people or get out of my comfort zone and have lacked confidence. I’ve been able to reassure myself that in that situation it would be better to be outgoing even if it was scary.
Last summer at a church camp I didn’t know anyone else there, and I had to decide to have twenty seconds of courage to introduce myself to people. I did, and my fears were quickly forgotten as I made lots of friends. Because I was thinking that I only have one life and I should use each day the best I can, I was able to do things that I might have regretted not doing because of insecurities or a lack of courage.
I’m sure that stuck-in-the-mud truck driver will think twice before breaking rules in the future. It’s true that we only have one life to live, so instead of looking at that fact as an excuse to misbehave, we can use YOLO as a force for positive change.
This column is the opinion of Claire Kincaid, a sophomore at Soldotna High School.