I received an email from Niall Doherty a little while ago that quite hit home. If you don’t know who Niall Doherty is, I highly recommend visiting his website. I’ve been following Niall for years now, back when he had just started his 44 months round the world trip without flying, and I have to thank him for sharing the link that got me to go to the Antarctic on a sailboat and also for inspiring many crucial realisations that made my life what it is now. Definitely someone worth following!
Not that long ago he went back to his hometown for a visit. He was talking about how fifteen years ago he was working at a dead-end job in a department store, and how some of the people he was working with were still there. It reminded him that while they seemed okay with their life, fifteen years ago he knew that kind of life wasn’t for him. And he ended the email by asking what we wanted our lives to be like in fifteen years from now. Which brings me to this.
Fifteen years ago
15 years ago today was May 9th, 2002. Wow, just writing the date down is making me feel queasy. Thinking about all that happened in the last 15 years is making my head spin. The early 2000s seem like a lifetime ago, yet at the same time, they feel like yesterday.
In 2002, I was also working in a dead-end job in a supermarket. It was my first real job and within a few months, I had been promoted to night supervisor. Which meant that at only 18 years old I was the one responsible for handling customer complaints. Although it was a good first job, I knew I didn’t want to do that for my entire life.
I was hanging out with the people I was working with. We would go out almost every day, and party until most people were actually going to work. That’s when we would go to sleep. We were free, we didn’t have anything holding us back. We could party all we wanted, the only thing we had to do what to get to work for 4 pm. An easy job, some great friends and a few flirts here and there, no responsibilities whatsoever. That was a great life for an 18 years old.
I had a great time during that year although I knew this was not what I wanted to do with my life. Before all of this happened I had started college, as had done all my friends, but I had gotten sick with a misdiagnosed mono which took me months to recover from. I wanted to go back to school but didn’t want to be going to school for the sake of going to school. I wanted to do something that interested me.
So I decided gaining life experience couldn’t be bad for me. Learning the cost of living, and becoming an adult.
I was so naive back then. I had no clue that 15 years later, I would still be expecting the adulting thing to kick in at one point.
It was a good decision to be working since, even with all the partying, given that I was still living at my mum’s place it allowed me to put money aside and eventually leave for 2 months in Europe on my own.
That was one of the best experiences of my life and one that made me realise that this was what I wanted to do with my life. So when I came back from my Europe trip, I went back to school in tourism.
Fifteen years from now
Fifteen years in the future brings us to May 9th, 2032. I’ll be 47 by then. Fast approaching 50. Seeing those numbers here makes me fully aware it will probably happen very quickly since I don’t have the feeling that being 18 years old was that long ago.
It’s funny how easy it is to get into a routine and think that this is all there is to life. You get a boyfriend or husband, a career, a house and a dog. And keep going until retirement. After all, it’s not that long. And you are already old.
This exercise of looking back at how much I have accomplished in my life in the last 15 years makes me rather hopeful as to what I can accomplish in the next 15. Fifteen years is a long time. Heck, even 10, or 5 can be long enough to change your whole life. To repurpose it.
It’s never too late to take actions and aim for your goals. Settling for average and pushing your dreams aside will not make them achievable. And thinking that you are too old for this shit will not help either.
The average life expectancy both in Canada and the UK is now over 80 years old. That means that in 15 years I’ll be able to do the same exercise and still probably have another 15 years to plan for.
Which begs the question, what do I want to do with my life? Clearly, there’s still so much time to take advantage of to live a full life. I know that how we define a full life is a very personal choice, but one thing remains, there’s time.
Plenty of it.
So, let’s define our full-lived life and go after it.
Nothing is stopping us. Let’s not stop ourselves.
What do you want to look back on and think: ”wow, what a ride!”