THERE are a million and one sayings that people have used down through the years as inspiration to live life to the full, but #YOLO (You Only Live Once) is a phenomenon that has taken the world by storm.
This carefree acronym became famous in 2011 when it was used by the rapper Drake in his hip-hop single ‘The Motto’.
Following the release of his single Drake tweeted a picture of himself standing on a hotel balcony with the words #yolo and Twittersphere erupted.
From then on, YOLO became a staple word in the verbal and online dictionary of modern youth in the Western world.
In 2012, Oxford American Dictionaries included yolo in its shortlist for English Word of the Year.
Heartthrob actor Zac Efron got the phrase tattooed on his right hand and the Kardashian sisters started wearing yolo jog pants.
Tens of thousands of tweets are tagged daily from people describing YOLO moments. and last year 21-year-old rap artist Ervin McKinness tweeted “Drunk af going 120 drifting corners #F***It YOLO,” before dying in a car crash.
This incident did little to quell the idea that making the most of life involves challenging the realms of social convention and enjoying the exploration of impulse and emotion.
Kate O’Shea, 24, from Kenmare, became severely depressed five years ago, as a result of following a path that was not for her.
“I am from a high achieving family and I always did well in school so it was expected of me to do something ‘worthwhile’,” she explains.
“I was really into interior design and art but I ended up doing architecture as it was high points.
“I stuck with it for a year and a half and it really affected me. I had to drop out as I was so sick.
“I moved home and just started to focus on the things I enjoyed. I loved cooking and I opened a café on the family activity centre and campsite. It has been open for four years now and it is doing very well.
“I also enrolled on a local art course — it was very basic but I enjoyed it. After that I did a more advanced art class in Cork and that’s when I really knew this was for me.
“I started at the school of art and design in Limerick and I am going into my third year.
“My café, NomNom, is also a gallery for my work and I help out one of the local artists with her studio.
“I love that I have a little bit of all the things I like in my life, art, food, family, friends.
“I think it can be hard to know what you want when you are young, but it is important to be aware of what you like and not what those around you want.”
Cormac Mohally, 33, from Cork, made one or two mistakes early in life, and he believes you need to try things beyond what is considered normal to discover what is normal for you.
“I dropped out of school when I was 16, and I experimented with drugs and ended up in a bit of trouble. I was arrested for possession of narcotics.”
Cormac then turned his mercurial nature in an art form and began street performing. His work takes him all over the world.
“For a lot of things, you need to mess up before you get it right.”
Richard Jacob, 40, also from Cork, is another who agrees life is too short to follow suit with social norms.
“I always wanted to work for myself,” he explains. “I had been managing businesses for many years but the dream was to have my own place.”
Fourteen years ago, when the going was good, Richard and his wife Mairead both handed in their notice and headed off to Australia for a year.
“We put everything we owned into storage, rented out our house and took off. It really opened our eyes.” When the couple returned to Ireland they set up their own place, Idaho Café on Maylor Street in Cork which has been in business for over 12 years and has won a series of awards.
“There is more to life than making money,” Richard says, “Life is too short. I could be run over by a bus in five years, I want to have seen the world and taken the time to meet people.”
Of course, not everyone is in favour of the inspirational phrase and an anti-yolo campaign kicked off in 2012 to discourage the phrase being used for reckless antics. The campaign released an image of a young woman looking at a positive pregnancy test. It read: Nine months from now #YOLO.
A point well made.
No matter what way you live, it is human nature to make mistakes: Yolo just encourages you to make the best of a bad situation.
The concept gives people the insight to live based on what they want to achieve, not what others deem right.
It is a way to shed social norms and defy rigid thinking.
There is craic to be had no matter what your circumstances. You only live once — so make the most of it.
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved