Have you ever heard that well-known quote that says that most people do not fear death, they fear having not lived? They regret not living life to the fullest when they had the ability to. Accomplished dreams, completed goals and unforgettable memories are emphasized in motivational talks. But don’t you ever wonder to what extent those elements define life? How much do they actually apply to what we like to call ‘a fulfilled life’? Don’t these so-called stimulating but still gripping speeches make you feel guilty? Whether it is because you didn’t travel the world when you could’ve, because you once turned down an opportunity that you had previously longed for or you just stopped chasing someone or something that just didn’t seem reachable anymore. What those oh-so-experienced speakers would tell you is that you are responsible, that you made those mistakes and it’s all on you so don’t blame life. Does it mean that there’s no way you can make something meaningful out of your existence? It probably does not. And it does not make you less of an achiever than anyone else either. Perhaps what some may call mistakes are not even mistakes, after all you had the clearest view, therefore your judgement might have been unquestionably proper to the situation you were in.
But still, let’s consider the case of someone who hasn’t achieved any of what’s been listed above, the ‘great goals’ as the speakers would most-likely describe them, be it because the opportunities didn’t seem to unfold plainly enough for them or for any other reason. Think about all the facts and actions that would be considered accomplishments in any kind of TED talk for instance. The question is: will they eventually regret the way they lived? I don’t believe so, and I surely hope they don’t. Because I believe that one’s life is fulfilled only if that one person has done everything the way they were willing to. In my opinion, it’s not so much about what the experiences we’ve chosen to undertake and how many odds we defied when we could have simply let go. It’s not about the lost dreams, the missed opportunities and the seemingly repetitive failures. Because life is summed up in highs and lows, sadness and happiness, storms and celebrations. It always goes hand in hand. In fact, I think it all comes down to ‘doing life’ your own way.
Over time, societies have had the tendency to pressure people into fitting into ideals, putting labels on one another and although motivational speakers’s aim is mainly to inspire people in order that they finally get to live a delighted life, the message seems to turn out to be misconceived at times. When one immoderately puts the emphasis on those achievements, it wrongfully mislead people into thinking that completed goals are the holy grail of life. What do meaningless goals, the ones that are forced upon us and spread by a clichéd view of the unblemished society, bring to life, if not happiness? Nothing. You travelled across the world for months because it seemed to be hype and all your friends urged you to do so when all you enjoyed at the end of the day was the magnificent vistas because you missed home. You completed your workout goals but all you can remember at the end of your program is the painstaking efforts without finding any satisfaction in the outcome. These were worthless goals to you, however far from trivial they could be to anyone else. Sometimes these ambitions are merely insignificant to some, though they might be eminent in other people’s mind and highly important.
Misconceptions about a fulfilled life might hinder some to pursue their real interests. What is crucial then is to let your inner voice be the winner at all times. Do not let it get lost among the voices of the celebrated self-proclaimed motivational speaker or by those around you who seem to have achieved much more than you in life. There is no thing in life that needs to be experienced unless you want to experience it and to be lived. There is no accuracy in the quote that says that ‘you’ve not lived life until you have [insert whatever fits]’. It might sound self-centered to some extent but in the end life is about you. You are defined by your very own ambitions, dreams, passions and also by your non-interests, by what you are not. Life is also about missed opportunities and failures and gaps on your path sometimes but that doesn’t mean that your life is lacking meaning or consistency. A fulfilled life is just a life lived the exact way you wanted it to be, whether you feel like you need a purpose in life or not, whether you want to complete goals or just live life spontaneously.
Your life, your voice, your way.