I love the ocean. I always have. Something about the waves, the sand, and the tide…it’s spiritual to me. Going to the beach as a kid grew that love. As an adult, I haven’t always prioritized taking trips to the beach, but I’ve been lucky enough to visit and swim in the Indian and Atlantic ocean multiple times. When I was about 23, I got the opportunity to go to California with the girl I was seriously dating at the time. I was so excited to see the West Coast for the very first time and to jump into those cool waters. We stayed with her aunt and uncle and after a couple days, we borrowed a car and headed for the coast.
After a couple hours of exploration, we made it! The whole Pacific ocean lay before me – endless ocean below a blue veil of sky. I couldn’t wait to jump in. I looked at the girl who had my heart at the time and said, “Let’s go!” A sad, sheepish look came over her face. “It’s too cold! I just want to sit here and watch the sunset”. I was heartbroken. I wanted to swim so badly. However, when I looked at my girlfriend and realized that she was strangely sad for some reason, I sighed, and slowly sat down next to her, as we watched the sunset fade into night.
I think back on that moment often. While I don’t believe I made a bad decision, I wish I’d listened to my gut and jumped in anyway. At the time, the idea of making her happy, a girl who would later break up with me despite my best efforts to keep her, outweighed my willingness to do something that truly made me happy. Needless sacrifice versus worthy sacrifice – that’s something I’ve been trying to learn about ever since. When is it okay to do something just for yourself? When is it right to lay down your wants for another? I believe this is a lesson that I’ll be learning the rest of my life.
My advice for you is simple: do it anyway. Sure, there are moments you shouldn’t jump in. Still, when it comes to the little things? Do it anyway. Eat the last slice of cheesecake. Take the trip you’ve always wanted to. Tell that person you love them. Sometimes, the only thing holding you back is yourself. In the words of Bono on U2’s latest record: “Get Out Of Your Own Way”. A little bit of risk and indecision may be the only thing standing between you and one of the best moments of your life. “What if I make a mistake?”, you may ask. Well, my friend, that’s part of the journey. I’ve learned more from making mistakes than anything else. Use all your judgement, caution, and discernment, but when the moment comes for something great to happen, I challenge you – do it anyway.
– Brad Byrd