“It’s just like a roll of toilet paper, it always goes more quickly towards the end of your roll.”
A “well-seasoned” woman with a bedazzled visor spoke these words of truth to a friend as they headed to the pool. There I was on a ship in the middle of the Caribbean Ocean… The sun beaming down, a piña colada in hand, and not a care in the world. Rough. I tuned in at the perfect moment to hear these words and it sparked something in me. I never thought I would think about toilet paper as much as I have since then. If the past couple of years have taught me anything, it’s that life is short. And it seems to feel shorter than ever the further you get into your roll.
I feel like I have a very difficult time remaining fully present in the here and now. I often find myself trying to brainstorm, plan, and dream of what might be next. Do you do that? I catch myself thinking eight years down the road, or at very least thinking about what the afternoon will hold. This way of thinking takes many forms for me. In my fitness and finances, it looks a lot like procrastination. “It’s fine, charge it, in eight years you will be rolling in it.” Or, “It’s okay, eat the donut, in eight years you will be at your goal.” I justify my current actions with the thought of the future being different… mind you, with no real plan in place for those future moments to ever be reality. The future is coming whether I invest in it or not. YIKES. If you could only see how big my eyes just rolled as I type this revelation.
Maybe it was the metaphor of life as a roll of toilet paper and the fear that mine would be down the sewer before I knew it. Or maybe I finally became emotionally “hungover” from the indulgent lifestyle I had been living. Whatever it was, it shook me and in a sense woke me up. To the core, my faith and my dreams have always fueled me. Both of these things take discipline and effort. However, rather than investing in them I became VERY consistent in fueling my impulses and distractions. This has been a perfect blend consisting of a lot of wine, lots of credit card charges, and some fairly unhealthy “friendships”. The ones that involve, “recreational kissing” as my mom would call it. Which always makes me laugh because I imagine this interaction, “So, what do you do in your spare time?”, “Ohhhh, I recreationally kiss people.” I don’t. I was just kissing some frogs hoping they would become a prince. They didn’t. Regardless, it was a very effective method of distraction. Thank you, Satan. Ew.
The truth is, I spent a lot of my life fearful and insecure. I believed I was unintelligent, unattractive, and uninteresting. As I became more confident I abandoned many of my fears, and those that I couldn’t abandon I masked. I took a YOLO approach to life, shrugged off my cares and encouraged myself, “You only live once, Jess”. I feel like my generation, and even more so the generations following view, “YOLO” as a challenge and it’s worn like a badge of honor. Peer pressure at its finest. I clubbed, I kissed, I drank and I spent money I didn’t have. My poor liver, my poor credit score. I was, “living the dream” while I was digging my grave.
As I had this realization amidst my emotional hangover, I found myself looking back and saying, “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Dear high school self, you are qualified, you are unique and that boy is icky… trust me. Dear college self, credit cards are the devil, school is an awesome blessing and don’t be afraid to do the “scary” things… just make sure they align with the values that you carry so deeply. Bee tee dub, that boy is ALSO icky. I know you’re not supposed to “should” on yourself. Woulda, shoulda, coulda… but I can’t help but wonder what my present day may have looked like if I would have taken even tiny consistent steps towards my goals.
Instead of wasting these wishes on the past, I instead began to think about what my future self might caution to present day Jess? I can only assume that my future self would say, “Honey, you aren’t getting any younger. NOW is the time to start taking care of your body. Make a budget and stick to it, I want to be able to vacation sans credit cards someday. Talk to God about ALL of it… all the things, He cares about the details of your life.”
I’m 29 years into my “roll” of life, and according to a bedazzled lady on a cruise, (I want to be you when I grow up), it only goes more quickly from here. I think it’s about time my YOLO moments brought me closer to my goals. Then I can still rap to “Motto”, but benefit from it. You only live once, so go to bed and you’ll be rested for your run in the morning. You only live once, so make a habit of writing fifteen minutes a day and you may spark something wonderful. There will be many “tomorrows” but I only have one “today.”
The future is where our dreams may come alive, but it’s in the present that we are able to choose and invest in them. I’m hoping that someday when my “roll of life” starts spinning faster and inches towards the cardboard, I can look back and say, “Hey 29-year-old self, good work, lady.” While wearing a bedazzled visor in the middle of the Caribbean ocean, of course.
Xoxo, Bedazzled Jess