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Are you living, or just existing?

By Pam Allman

Rowan County Health Department

It’s our choice to live or to just exist.  What I mean is, “living” is defined as the course of an individual’s life and “existing” is defined as living at an inferior level or under adverse circumstances.  The course of events in our life can affect whether we live or whether we simply exist. But for the most part, it is our choice.  Every day when we wake up we have to make a conscious decision for the day ahead.  Once we have made the decision to get out of bed, the rest must follow.  Do we choose to eat breakfast or not? Do we choose to go outside? Do we choose to use our time wisely or waste it away?  Our decisions often times can determine how we feel (both physically and emotionally), not to mention how we look.  This in turn can hugely affect how others see us.

As we age, the decisions we make daily determine whether we are living or just existing.  The time during our pre-teen years is usually determined by our parents and how it is spent.  Once we become teenagers, we have a more active input into how and what we spend our time doing, although some of it may be determined by our family.  In our twenties, thirties, forties, and even fifties we generally don’t have a choice about working (which encompasses a large amount of our day) but we do have a choice of how to spend our time outside of work.  In our sixties, once we have retired, life becomes ours to do with what we want.  Why wait until then?  Do you spend all your time browsing social media, watching television or playing video games, or are you experiencing life?  Do you spend time with others participating in various activities or are you secluded in your own space with no real interaction with people?  Do you make a conscious effort to visit with family and friends or are you always on your own?

Not so long ago, I took a long look at my life and was very disappointed when I realized that I had just been existing.  I had not truly lived in a very long time. I was okay with just existing and unfortunately instilled this into those close to me. I have since learned that just existing, at least for me, was detrimental, and not just to me but to my children as well.  I failed to be the parent I could have been.  I was no longer the person I remembered being.  My physical self was a mess, and emotionally I was relying on medication to get me through the days.  Now that I am on the downhill slope of this wonderful thing called LIFE, I have made some changes and hope to one day return back to the person I once was. It has been a slow but steady journey, one that I continue to work on daily and anticipate will be working on for the remainder of my life.  I feel better now in my current place in life than I have ever felt. I made some changes which include eating better, exercising 4-5 times a week, watching only 3 hours of television a week and spending more time with my family and friends.   I am trying to be an example for my children so that they do not make the same mistake I did when it comes to their children.  LIFE is SHORT and there are so many things that can bog us down and cause us to just exist instead of truly living.

There is no instruction manual on how to live. Examine your life, yourself, and how you spend your time.  Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week or even next year, but do it today.  What have you done for yourself today?  Have you laughed or smiled today?  What is that thing that makes you look forward to tomorrow?  Are you getting busy living or are you satisfied with existing?

Allman is WIC office supervisor for the Rowan County Health Department.

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