In the Radiate section of the site, we’ll be featuring stories on various topics surrounding health, wellness, style and beauty – essentially, feeling your best and radiating not only from the outside but from the inside as well. This week in the Radiate section, our Editor, Shelby, is sharing a very personal story about how a recent tragedy has reminded her how valuable our lives really are and how crucial it is to appreciate not just the big moments, but the small moments that occur each and every day.
A few weeks ago a colleague of mine, Drew, passed away suddenly. I wasn’t particularly close to him, but we had mutual friends and I knew him by reputation as a great guy who brought a lot of happiness to all who knew him. Of course any time a tragedy happens within your immediate world, it’s shocking and sad. This one shook me more, though. He was my age, and seeing a life end so abruptly at 27 really makes you think.
There are so many things I see when I think about my future – solving the mystery of work/life balance, finding that guy who’s perfect for me, having adventures in exotic locales, having a family. But what if one day I just don’t wake up? I don’t have a clear stance on the after-life (one of those things I’m sure I’ll figure out in the future), but if I could look back on my life once it was over, what would I think? I’m pretty sure I’d wish that I had slowed down and remembered to just enjoy.
When I explain the premise of Quarterlette to people, one of my go-to phrases is that your twenties are for figuring out who the adult you is going to be. We’re making decisions now about our careers, relationships, health that lay the groundwork for the rest of our lives. That’s all true, and planning for what’s coming next is important. But enjoying the journey is equally important.
I’m not usually a fan of canned inspirational quotes but this one is just so right —
For a long time it seemed to me that life was about to begin – real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way. Something to be gotten through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life. This perspective has helped me to see that there is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way. So treasure every moment you have and remember time waits for no one.
Yes, I saw this on a greeting card (I know, I know). You’ve probably seen it on a greeting card, too. But it struck me enough that I’ve held on to it for years. As cheesy as this is, it reminds me that life isn’t just about the big milestones–it’s about how you get there. You have to embrace the challenges and find the people and things that help you to enjoy each step of the way.
Ever have those days where you finally take a break to step outside the office on an unexpectedly sunny afternoon and just can’t help feeling overwhelmingly happy and optimistic in that moment, no matter how stressful the day has been? I’ve had a few lately–partly thanks to this crazy New York weather (can you say unpredictable?), and partly thanks to the experience of seeing this colleague’s life pulled out from under him so quickly. They’re simple, happy-to-be-alive moments, and I’m working on relaxing and letting more of them in.
So thanks, Drew, for reminding me to slow down and find the happiness in every day. You’re missed by all who were close to you, and you are an inspiration even to those who weren’t.