Your Life is Your Own (But Also You Owe Us)

An animated gif illustration of a carrot walking in place with a white background. It's silly but also feels confident.
DBS Bank Ltd.
(I honestly can't tell you why I am using this gif for this post, it just feels right.)


"Your life is your own."

Just reading this sentence makes me feel a kind of restful confidence that's really quite lovely.

It comes from a very long quote (poem? Sometimes it's hard to tell) that ends with a push to claim this life of yours so that it doesn't pass you by, your glorious potential lost to the world.

On one hand, yes. Of course, yes. Very much yes. Absolutely yes. When we just let life happen for us or follow someone else's plan for our lives we wind up missing out on so much.

On the other hand, do these inspirational urgings ever feel like pressure to anyone else? I love love love the simple statement "your life is your own" because it clears away a lot of clutter in my brain. It rejects all the pressure I may put on myself to achieve or earn or make sure I look good to other people and reminds me that I don't belong to anyone but myself.

The next part, though? The "claim it so it doesn't pass you by"? I am no longer relaxed. Now my life that I thought was mine, that I could live as I wished, is running away on a conveyor belt and I'm Lucy stuffing chocolates in my mouth because I can't keep up.

Suddenly, there's an assignment. I have to achieve something or offer something to the world and it feels like there's an implied standard of good enough. I have potential that must be realized.

The mental clutter returns. What's the potential? What if I pick the wrong thing? Am I aiming high enough? What if I die before I achieve it? What if, even worse, I give up and my potential dries up?
It takes the somewhat-revolutionary reminder that my life is mine and mine alone and places it within a framework of achievement. Of noticeable glory. Of a debt owed to the universe. It's capitalism, but for dreams.

Maybe you find the reminder to achieve your potential as calming and confidence-boosting as I find the reminder that my life is my own. In that case, take it.

Personally, I'm going to just hold onto the part where my life is my own and leave it at that.

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