What Does YOLO Mean to You?

You Only Live Once

YOLO. You’ve seen it, right? It’s been popping up everywhere lately, from websites to T-shirts to Zac Efron’s hand tattoo. But what does YOLO mean? You Only Live Once.

Reincarnation debates aside, the sentiment’s in the same vein as carpe diem (seize the day)—but not quite.

While carpe diem has more of an “embrace life and savor the moment” flavor, YOLO is often used in reference to reckless behavior. As in: “Enjoy yourself even if it involves taking unnecessary—or even irresponsible—risks.”

So, what kinds of risks have been taken in the name of YOLO?

It’s too late to ask Ervin McKinness, the 21-year-old aspiring rapper who was killed in a fiery car crash last year. Minutes before running a red light and hitting a wall at 120 miles per hour, he tweeted, “Driving Drunk af [sic] going 120 drifting corners…#YOLO”

Insurance is all about risk and deciding how much you’re comfortable taking on. A former coworker learned the hard way that living in an apartment without a renters insurance policy wasn’t worth the gamble—after a fire destroyed most of his belongings.

Skipping life insurance is a risk, too. I’ll never forget a story shared by a colleague who started out as an ERIE Agent. He once received a call from a widow, asking if he’d sold her late husband a life insurance policy.

“I found your business card in his desk,” she said tearfully, “with a life insurance brochure. Please tell me you sold him a policy. Please.”

But he hadn’t. And he said he never forgave himself for having to tell the widow no, for not stressing once again to that man just how important life insurance was. The experience had a lasting influence on his life—and his career with ERIE today.

What kinds of risks are YOLO-worthy for you? If they run on the wild side, here are some safer substitutes to consider.

Instead of playing with fire…set your mouth on fire. Jalapeños, tabasco sauce, Frank’s Red Hot—I love ‘em all. Sambal Oelek raw chili paste is a current favorite in soups, stews, eggs, pizza—basically anything but ice cream. (A good rule of thumb: If you’re not enduring/enjoying the Holy Trinity of Hot—forehead sweating, nose sniffing and eyes watering—it’s not spicy enough.)

Instead of texting while driving…sing while driving. “Life is a Highway” is an obvious choice for run-of-the-mill road trips. If you’re driving cross-country, try “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles).” Bonus points if you put it on repeat and let The Proclaimers “DA DA-DA DA! (DA DA-DA DA)! DA DA-DA DA! (DA DA-DA DA)! DA DA-DA DA! (DA DA-DA DA)!” until you can’t take it any longer and switch to something less repetitive. Like, say, “Macarena.”

Instead of YOLO…eat a Rolo. Read some Paulo Coelho. Hit a movie solo. Wear a bolo. Play polo. Or water polo. Or Marco Polo. Or a piccolo.

You really do only live once, so don’t cut it short by doing something foolish.

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