After spending a day literally living on the edge (of a rock on top of a mountain, at least), I think most people need to set another goal: finding out what "living on the edge" means to them.
Last Saturday, my roomie, dad and I set out on a morning adventure: hiking up to Potato Chip Rock, an infamous photography location in Poway, CA. Eight miles, two and a half hours and plenty of ridiculous photos. The hike took its toll on my booty and ankles - as my roommate put it, "I need a butt massage!" But, my mind kept on - and is still - racing on the meaning of on-the-edge-living.
To me, living on the edge is not...
...believing that pain always leads to gain.
As someone with fibromyalgia and celiac disease, pain and I aren't strangers. In some ways, it definitely helps. When my stomach began hurting after every meal, I knew something was wrong - and, months later, received a celiac disease diagnosis. When I challenge my body with a new workout routine - like heavier weights or a Mud Run - I hurt, but I grow in my bodily strength and confidence.
But it's important to realize that growth doesn't require pain. If you aren't too sore to move the next day, that doesn't mean your last workout was "too easy." If you turn down the invitation to raise awareness for celiac disease by running a marathon (I may or may not have declined this request a few months ago), it doesn't mean you're a "sissy" or "playing it safe." Considering your physical limitations and calculating an activity's risks and rewards makes you a logical human being, not a boring one.
Living on the edge is also not...
...entirely abandoning your comfort zone.
I'll just go ahead and say it: I'm not the life of the party. Most weekend nights, I'm in my PJ's by five o'clock and watching Project Runway and baking granola by seven. And you know what? I'm happy with that. I'm happy being a homebody who prefers Netflix over parties. I'm happy being in my comfort zone.
Sure, sometimes I force myself to shake up the usual routine. But, just like baby birds don't leave the nest forever, people don't have to trade their comfort zone for edgy living. Dance on the edge of life - and then tiptoe back to your couch. It's true that excitement and newness spices up life, but comfort and quiet nights give us the energy to try new things!
What does living on the edge mean to me? It's...
...not being afraid to try new things.
A few weeks ago, my roommate and I started a bucket list for the last six weeks of this semester. The first one was to climb Potato Chip Rock. Others include: pottery painting, late-night dancing, gluten free food finding, and hammock hanging. Some of these will definitely be a little scary. I mean: Me? Dancing? That'll be entertaining for everyone involved!
|Even if you don't know what you're doing...|
But you can't get the most out of life without sampling a variety of life's activities. I'm not going to embrace "newness" to the point of causing (physical or emotional) pain or hanging up my Netflix marathon jersey. Yet, the idea of vacationing to the outskirts of my everyday life? It's pretty exciting!
Living on the edge is...
...daring to look into the future - and consider all the different options!
When we finally made it onto Potato Chip Rock (after waiting in a short photo line!), a man in front of us told me, "Don't look down." I think that's a common reaction - we fear the unknown to the point of never trying to know it!
As I glanced beyond the rock and onto the green, rocky valley below, though, I realized: seeing the (possible versions of our) future is part of fully embracing life. Due to some recent, big changes in my life, my future isn't looking the way I imagined. I have more choices to make - What classes to take next semester? Which grad schools to apply to? What place will I end up living? - and lots more uncertainty. But there's something about acknowledging fear of the future and it's many possibilities that makes me feel alive.
Finally, living on the edge is...
...being radically happy with where you are and what you're feeling.
Because everywhere, some part of society suggests that we aren't lovable as we are. We're too short, skinny, fat, weak, strong, independent, dumb - you name any character trait and a product to fix such "problem" probably exists. Perhaps living on the edge doesn't just refer to the edge of your life or routine.
Perhaps it means the edge of societal expectations. Accepting that you have room to be challenged and grow, but also recognizing your present strengths and abilities. Striving to be confident and happy most of the time, but giving yourself permission to feel sad or insecure some days.
I know that these last three years of college have stretched and strengthened me in so many ways. The next three years will probably do the same.
Honestly, I don't know anything "for sure" about my future. But I do know that I want to live on the edge - my way.
*Also found at RunningwithSpoon's link party!*
How do you define "living on the edge?" Comment below!