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I didn’t realize that living vicariously had become such a faux pas. When exactly did this happen anyway?
“I’m living vicariously through you” used to be a casual, encouraging, fun-loving thing to say when a friend was setting out on a unique journey.
But these days, if you Google “living vicariously” you’ll be criticized instantly. “Get out there and live life for yourself,” they’ll say. One website even commanded “stop fucking living vicariously through other people.”
That seems a bit harsh.
It’s a good thing I’m not easily swayed by popular thinking. Let’s be clear: living vicariously through others doesn’t necessarily mean that we lack the courage, skills or drive to experience something first-hand. I mean, honestly, do you really want to live out every possibility that life presents? I sure don’t. I don’t have time to. There are plenty of things I’m curious about, but don’t have a deep enough desire or interest in to put forth the time, energy and resources to actually follow through.
Yesterday, a good friend of mine announced that she is moving out of the country to take advantage of an opportunity that recently surfaced. She doesn’t have a lot of details about it yet–only that she is going. This decision is completely in line with her inner truth, the way she wants to experience her life, and what she wants to accomplish in it.
And while I can appreciate her passion, and admit that it does sound like a lot of fun, it doesn’t spark enough of a desire within me to rearrange my life to experience it personally. But that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying living the experience alongside her–the same way we do when we empathize with others and step into their shoes. Why can’t I imagine myself going with her, but not really go with her?
Using my imagination to live vicariously was my act of self-care for the day. It didn’t cost me a thing. I didn’t have to worry about the stress and details of planning a trip. In fact, I didn’t have to pack a single thing in order to imagine what it might be like to leave everything behind, hop a plane, and begin living in another country.
It was fantastic!
Not something I want to experience at this point in my life, but fantastic to imagine nonetheless.
So I’m giving you permission to live vicariously any time you want to. Perhaps you’ll discover along the way that you really do want to experience something first-hand. Who knows?
But in the meantime, exploring possibilities in our mind is a beautiful gift that we can accept as often as we like. We can dream about, experiment with, try on, and try out an endless number of life experiences without ever leaving our thoughts.
What have have you lived vicariously?