Let me take you back to 2011: the year that birthed unto us a rather unforgivably distasteful acronym, YOLO (“You Only Live Once”).
I personally hate the acronym because of its now muddy meaning. The mantra is well-intended, but its execution — not so much. I find it almost exclusively reserved for those “I have a lot of potential to f— up this situation, so YOLO!” scenarios.
And while life is about f—ing up and learning from it, I don’t think that’s what “living once” means. At the dawn of the YOLO-era, a good friend told me his thoughts on YOLO. Since then, I’ve refrained from using this bastardized term and have forgone it for its better version: “carpe diem” (Latin for “seize the day”).
I say this not because I want to discuss the philosophical foo-foo and minutia of phraseology in pop culture (because I really don’t). I say this because, being a college kiddo, it’s totally relevant right now.
This was my friend’s take: YOLO implies a life lived instantaneously and spontaneously — reactionary, moment-by-moment. “Carpe diem,” on the other hand, implies a life lived purposefully — proactively and in the moment.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a little guppy with only a month’s worth of college under your belt or a wizened ’Bo who already has one foot out the door. Each of us has the same daily self-obligation: to make the best of our day. Not merely to “live once,” but to “carpe” each “diem.”
I spent the entirety of my summer contemplating this distinction. One of my goals this year is not to buy into the pseudo-glory of all that is YOLO but to trade it in for the “carpe diem” version.
Round two at Tufts will be different for me. I don’t plan to abandon the lessons I learned from last year’s exhilarating YOLOs. Instead, I plan to piggyback off those lessons that marked the best and worst of last year. And I plan to use those lessons as a gauge to ensure that all future exhilarating times are only purposeful and beneficial to my well-being.
It’s only been two weeks, but I think I’ve done a pretty good job using this proactive “carpe diem” attitude. Every day, I ask myself how I can make the best of each day I’m here. And I check to see that whatever I’m doing only adds joy to my hectic life. So far, I’ve been starting and ending my days on a good note: I’ve been scheduling lunch dates to catch up with friends, I haven’t procrastinated (too much) and I just attended my first weekly guided meditation today.
And I feel awesome.
Fun facts from a former student of the Latin language: the verb “carpere” means more than just “to seize.” Common variants include “to harvest” or “to pluck” something.
Do more than “only live once.” Do more than “seize the day.” Go out and harvest it. Go pluck the day when it’s ripe, because we both know it’ll go stale tomorrow.