YOLO, but responsibly

YOLO: The motto of stupid criminals everywhere.

I’m not a stupid criminal, but I do believe that YOLO isn’t a bad philosophy, if done responsibly. To put it in more intelligent terms, I believe in the importance of trying new things, stepping out of my comfort zone and not being afraid to take risks when the situation calls for it.

I believe that I’ll never reach my full potential if I don’t YOLO responsibly sometimes.

I grew up right here in Grand Forks, N.D. Based on my observations of life and the culture in this town, the social norm for females is to graduate high school, get a nursing or elementary education degree from UND or East Grand Forks’ Northland Community and Technical College, then get married, have a baby and buy a house in the same neighborhood as their parents, all before turning 25.

While there is nothing wrong with that path, (we need nurses and teachers as much as we need newspaper columnists) I can’t imagine prioritizing my family before my career and never experiencing life outside of my small hometown.

When I was in high school, my original plan for after graduation was to save up a ton of money and move to New York City. That hasn’t happened yet, although I’m graduating from UND in December and will be applying for jobs in or close to large cities all over the country, then moving to the first one to hire me.

If I had a dollar for everytime someone asked “won’t you be scared to be somewhere new and away from your family?,” I’d probably be driving a Ferrari.

I love my family as much as the next person, but I also realize that I wouldn’t make it very far in my career if I planned my life around living close to them. My dream job is to write for a fashion magazine or website. Grand Forks is way more into Ugg boots and black North Face sweatshirts than couture and Fashion Week, so living in a large city is an important requirement.

I’m aware of the risks involved with moving somewhere unfamiliar. I most likely won’t know anyone and it will probably be a bit more expensive than living here, but I accept those risks because I’d rather have my dream career in an awesome city than be safe but bored here.

Finding a job after graduation isn’t the only time when it’s important to try new things. College presents plenty of opportunities to YOLO responsibly.

Throughout my four years here, I’ve encountered my fair share of parties that I wanted to attend. However, I didn’t have friends willing to go with me and there were attractive guys who I wanted to get to know but thought might be too popular for a girl like me. If I wouldn’t have pushed myself to just go to the party alone and ask the hottie for his phone number, I would’ve missed out on some great experiences.

Some particularly interesting highlights were the time I went to a frat party with no one but my vodka-filled sippy cup and gave a random guy a foot massage for half an hour, climbing to the roof of O’Kelly, my semester in sunny Nevada and when I got convinced to join Toastmasters by a stranger at the Wellness Center.

If I wouldn’t have been brave enough to try new things, I wouldn’t have such silly party stories and I’d probably be single.

It’s unfortunate that many people aren’t braver. I’ve met plenty of people who rarely leave their bedroom and expect me to text them so they aren’t bored and plenty of girls who won’t even enter a public bathroom alone.

At the end of the day, what really matters is that each person is happy with their life, even if that means playing Call of Duty alone in their bedroom all day or buying a house next door to their parents, whatever floats their boat. I just wouldn’t be happy living my life that way.

I’m fascinated by the rest of the world and there’s nothing I want more out of my life than to experience it all. I’ve gotten used to being thought of as crazy or weird for my decisions, but I know the direction I’m headed has been worth it. YOLO, responsibly.

Millspaugh can be reached at [email protected]