The ‘you only live once’ phrase is abused

Published 11:35 am Thursday, October 17, 2013

Column: A Happy Medium, by Erin Murtaugh

Gonna go rob a bank.


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Failed my math test.


No, no, no. You have it all wrong.

What YOLO should be is working a food shelf, going on mission trips and seeing the world.

YOLO stands for “you only live once.” It started to appear when mainstream artists would use it in their music. Unfortunately, today’s younger generations have taken the acronym the wrong way. YOLO should mean living live to its fullest potential, not acting like a complete idiot and using YOLO as an excuse.

I know a few people who live out YOLO correctly. Jacob Jensen is a junior at Albert Lea High school. He does half days at school and the other half of the day he does online classes through Northwestern College. He lives out YOLO in this way by using his school time wisely and getting college credits done while still in high school.

Jensen has also organized many charity projects. Last fall, he asked Feed My Starving Children, an organization which packs meals and sends them to poverty stricken countries, to come to Albert Lea. One full day was spent with volunteers packing meals at the armory. The high school was challenged to raise money for this organization, along with businesses and community members.

Jensen organized Red Hand Day at ALHS. Red Hand Day is a day to draw attention to child soldiers throughout the world. Jensen set up large sheets of paper in the gym and had buckets of red paint out. Students would come in, dip their hand in paint and put their handprint on the paper. They would then sign their name on it and let it dry.

Jensen sent these to the United Nations as his way of showing the Red Hand movement. Look up this project sometime, it’s really quite neat.

Not only is Jensen a hard-working, caring person, he is just overall well-rounded. He is involved in choir, Youth in Government and other activities in school as well. Jensen is a great example of how to live life in the fullest and really using YOLO in its correct form.

So next time you’re debating going cliff diving and screaming YOLO on your way down, think about the true meaning and quit abusing the phrase.


Albert Lea resident Erin Murtaugh is a senior at Albert Lea High School.