YOLO. You only live once. The word has been stuck in my head ever since Drake rapped it in his song “The Motto” in 2013 and it went viral. It has inspired me to live life with a different mentality. I have traveled to more places and done more outrageous things than I ever thought I would do, just because of this one little word? I know it sounds stupid. That one word could sway your decision that much. BUT ITS SO TRUE. “Yolo means living with no regrets and taking chances and making the most out of your life,” says Laura Mueller attending University of Colombia. And that’s just what I’ve done.
The summer after it became one of the most overused words in the English language, (and believe me it definitely was) I decided to travel to Europe by myself and explore and adventure wherever I chose. I mean yes, I had an itinerary, but I really decided what I wanted to do for the day when I woke up that morning. It was so spontaneous and unlike me, but it was one of the best experiences of my life. I didn’t go crazy and go tattooing my forehead saying “YOLO!” But I did learn to conquer my fear of heights by climbing the Eiffel Tower, (SO MANY STAIRS) which really encouraged me to do other things abroad that I wouldn’t normally be able to do in the United States.
Almost 3 years have passed now and I have continued to be inspired by the idea of traveling and going on crazy adventurous because, why not? I hiked to the nest of wild gorillas in Rwanda, Africa last summer, something I am very fortunate to have done. Hands down the best experience of my life. These types of experiences have really shaped my life and made me fortunate to be the person I am today. Having those once in a lifetime experiences are crucial to living life to the fullest. We really DO live once, so why not make the most of it?
Hiking with Gorillas in Rwanda, Africa
I think this word had the same affect on other people. In fact I know this word had the same affect on people. Looking at the millions and millions of pictures with the hashtag Yolo under them was inspiring to my friends and me because it showed us what other cultures were doing to live their lives to the fullest. We saw pictures of people in Thailand letting go the Sky Lanterns at night. We saw pictures of Americans in Italy stuffing their faces with pizza. There were even videos of people bunjee jumping from bridges and jumping out of planes in New Zealand. Through the tap of a button on my cell phone, I was able to see what dare-devil adventures other people were doing in other countries to live their lives to the fullest. It really changed the way that my friends and I thought about our decisions and the way we looked towards the future.
The majority of the people that followed this motto were young adults, my generation. We all thought that what Drake rapped was true, that he was a hero for not only coming up with not only this rad phrase, but pretty much giving us a new adventurous lifestyle. People use it as an excuse to do something out of their comfort zone that they wouldn’t normally do. Steven Guarnaccia of the New York Times says, “Because we (young adults) haven’t lived as long, we haven’t seen as much and we’re more eager to see the world.” Teenagers and young adults are naturally faster paced and more open to trying new things and risky adventures, as he says, so it’s a perfect time to take advantage and do things outside of your comfort zone.
Yolo Adventures, a successful worldwide adventure company, creates trips packed with adventure and activities ordinary tourists would not have access to doing. Their mission statement says, “Youth is a limited-time offer. You’ve got the rest of your life to take it slow. Live fast now.” Yolo Adventures has excursions on every continent, which encourages people to travel and try more things out of their comfort zones. “It gives you the personal freedom to follow the whim of the moment.” They really encourage people to travel while they’re young, so that they can go on these fast paced excursions while they can.
I encourage you to travel while you’re young just for the reasons Yolo Adventures says. The truth is, we don’t know the exact moment we’re going to die. Life is so unpredictable. We’re not always guaranteed our old age, so traveling while you’re young is a great way to gain knowledge about people different than you. Many people make the mistake of saying they are going to wait until retirement to travel, or until their kids grow up, but they never end up getting the opportunity. Even if you travel when you’re older, your experience would be different compared to if you traveled while you were young. SO LIVE IT UP WHILE YOU CAN. Don’t take any moment for granted and go for the adventure. There are so many benefits to taking chances right now in life rather than later. Sora Hwang says “Chase your dreams while you’re young because you only get one shot. Seize the day and live in the moment.”
Yolo Adventures particularly advertises to youth because they know that young adults are the risk takers. We definitely make more radical decisions than, say, our parents, who have jobs and responsibilities to tend to. That’s why it’s our time, our time to do stupid shit and make mistakes. Shelby Rothberg, an Architecture major at Cal Poly SLO, traveled all over Europe, and also volunteered at elementary schools in South Africa this past summer. “When I was in South Africa, I swam with Great White Sharks. It still gives me goosebumps just saying it.” Rothberg doesn’t consider herself an adventurous person. She knew this was the only time in her life she would get this opportunity AND ACTUALLY CONSIDER IT, so she went for it. “It was definitely the scariest thing I have ever done and will probably ever do,” said Rothberg. “But I did a lot of cool things, met so many new people, and learned more than I ever thought I would.”
Rothberg “freaking out” with lions on a Safari in South Africa
Having once in a lifetime experiences while traveling can help you to be successful in the future, too. Rothberg said she formed many friendships that she wouldn’t have normally made in America that will help her later on in life. “I met several people in each place that really influenced the way I think about life.” She realized that there are so many people around the world that aren’t as fortunate as she is. I mean, it’s not like she had never seen a homeless person before. But other countries, especially South Africa she said, “have eye-opening poverty levels that you can’t really imagine until you see them.”
Traveling to other areas of the world shows you that there are always people worse off than you. Yes, poverty is in fact worse in other countries compared that one homeless man that stands on the corner of your street. Witnessing first hand the levels of poverty in other settings is a culture shock. One of the great things about traveling at a young age is being exposed to foreign surroundings other than your home. From personal experience, it is overwhelming coming home to such a privileged life after seeing the amount of people that suffer in other countries. I cried for a week straight when I came home from Africa. I could’t bare the fact that I lived in a nice house, with a pantry full of food, and a closet full of clothes when children in Rwanda were struggling to find food for the day. But this experience made me overall more thankful for the life I live.
Ciara Lane, a second year Communications Major at Cal Poly, grew up traveling to Ireland every summer. Lane stresses the importance of traveling while you’re young from personal experience, and says that it has helped her in more ways than she realized before I interviewed her.
Lastly, I interviewed Valerie Jennings, and HR Rep at Cisco Systems who has, in the last year, traveled to Rwanda, Singapore, India, and many different states in the US. She has always enjoyed traveling, and in the interview, says that she is very fortunate to have a job that lets her do so. As a mother of 3, she has taken her children on many different trips across sees because she thinks traveling while you’re young is the best knowledge you can get as a child.
Talking to all of these women has inspired me to travel now rather than later. Jennings even said that while she was talking to me, she realized that she needs to take her kids on a trip soon before they have other commitments that are more important later on in life.