noun al·ba·tross \ˈal-bə-ˌtrȯs, -ˌträs\
any of a family (Diomedeidae) of large web-footed seabirds that have long slender wings, are excellent gliders, and include the larges seabirds
a: something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety
b: something that greatly hinders accomplishment: encumbrance
“Your Albatross, let it go, let it go,
Your Albatross shoot it down, shoot it down
When you just can’t shake
The heavy weight of living.”
MUSIC, as Hector (yes, that semi-fictitious psychiatrist who travels the world in search of happiness… and lost time) says, “is a very good way of thinking about time”. And life, for that matter.
Recently, while I was listening to Bastille’s Weight Of Living Part 1, it got me thinking about albatrosses: Am I, at 20, already burdened by the weight of living? Am I pursuing my dreams and chasing ideals? Or have I merely been living someone else’s vision of life?
I don’t think you can be too young or too old to pause for a moment to take stock. Whether you’re a fresh graduate looking for a job, a working mum, an entrepreneur, an artist or a successful professional who’s thinking of swapping your high-paying job for a long-time dream at 40… whoever you are, whatever you’re doing, are you living? Are you happy?
To answer these questions, I turned to some of the wisest and most inspiring people to me — Eleanor Roosevelt, Steve Jobs, The Weepies… and came up with a checklist. I hope they’ll help you, too.
√ DO YOU HAVE A MOTTO IN LIFE?
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
I’ve had the phrase “Live wild, die free” tattooed on me since I was 18. By “live wild”, I don’t mean do crazy things and go all Miley Cyrus, but simply to fulfil my heart’s desires, judgements be damned. And by “die free”, I mean for it to serve as a life-long reminder that I shall live — and die — with no regrets, because in the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take, right?
Am I, at 20, already burdened by the weight of living? Am I pursuing my dreams and chasing ideals? Or have I merely been living someone else’s vision of life?
√ DO YOU PUSH YOUR LIMITS EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE?
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
How would you know your limits if you don’t test them? Break out of your comfort zone every now and then. Try Birkenstocks. Try saying “yes” to everything for a week, like Nicole Richie demonstrated (quite hilariously) on Candidly Nicole. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen?
√ DOES LIFE EXCITE YOU?
“I was made for sunny days. I made do with grey, but I didn’t stay.” — The Weepies
Simple question: Are you excited to wake up on most mornings? I say “most” because, let’s be real, not even Pharrell can claim to wake up Happy every day. But whether it’s your work, the kids, yoga class or a new outfit, something should make you want to jump out of bed at least half the time.
√ DO YOU HAVE A LIFE OUTSIDE OF WORK AND SOCIAL MEDIA?
“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs
Are you checking your work email while on you’re on vacation? Do you have trouble staying away from your mobile phone when you’re out having a meal with friends and family? Are you so busy liking other people’s Insta-life that you forget to live and enjoy your own real one?
If you’re guilty of more than one of the above, it’s time to look up, friend — see the sunset, decipher the clouds, hand-write a letter, people-watch, read a book… there’s too much life has to offer.
√ ARE YOU AFRAID OF FAILURE?
“Success is most often achieved by those who don’t know that failure is inevitable.” — Coco Chanel
Trying new things gets harder as you get older because our fear of failing grows with us. You think you’re going to fail, so why bother? But really, what’s so scary about failure? Yeah, its a little embarrassing. It’s little disappointing. But you learn a valuable lesson, you shake it off, and try again. Name me one great success story that didn’t have chapters of failures in it. Can’t? There you go. Take the plunge. Fail until you succeed!
√ DO YOU HAVE A GOOD FRIEND YOU CAN RELY ON?
“It’s the friends you can call up at 4am that matter.” ― Marlene Dietrich
When you fail, when the weight of living gets too heavy for you to bear it alone, it’s time to call your BFF. Nobody can do it all alone. Not LKY. Not Marie Curie. Not even Superman.
√ IS THERE THAT ONE THING YOU FIND JOY AND HAPPINESS IN DOING?
“I refuse to accept other people’s idea of happiness for me. As if there’s a ‘one size fits all’ standard for happiness.” — Kanye West
Blair Waldorf feeds the ducks with Dorota. Holly Golightly jumps in a cab and goes to Tiffany’s. Sylvia Plath takes a hot bath. I turn to music and books that speak to me. Everyone has their own way of relieving stress and beating the blues. What’s yours?
If, by the end of this checklist, you’ve answered “yes” to most of the questions, yay for you! If not, well, maybe it’s time to let it go, shoot it down, and start living. Start today. Carpe diem.
[Photos: Charcoal Alley, Pinterest]