03/16/2012 11:53 am ET Updated May 16, 2012

One Life to Live

By Alex Lewis

I nearly died 16 years ago.

In a tragic automobile accident just before Christmas, at the age of six, I lost one of my legs. As one could expect, it took a while to regain a small sense of stability after such an incident. Thoughts of failure due to my circumstances could have very well immobilized me permanently, however, I have since learned there is so much we have to live for, no matter our circumstances. We have all been granted the gift of life, and it's up to us to make the most of it. Find extracurricular activities that interest you, pick up a new hobby or pursue your life's dream. Life is far too short to waste. Enjoy your life to the fullest. Don't wait for some arbitrary time in the future to do these things -- start now. Today is the first day of the rest of your life.

If you lack any significant Spring Break plans, you're good to go. This is a great time to begin pursuing the things you enjoy the most. You have limited academic responsibility for the next week and need to fill this time with other things to stave off boredom. For example, I have enjoyed flying for as long as I can recall. The first 19 years of my life were spent dreaming of attaining my pilot's license and flying all over the world. During a break from school my freshman year, I began to take my flight lessons and subsequently acquire my license. Throughout free time during the year, you have the ability to completely dedicate yourself to these pursuits. Make the most of these periods and do whatever makes your heart happy.

Many of us have something we have always wanted to do. Whether it's to visit the far reaches of the world, try an extreme activity or something a bit more mundane and closer to home, you can make it happen. Last summer, I had the opportunity to study abroad and visit three countries in Asia. Exploring such a culturally rich part of the world so far away was an incredible experience. I'm sure a good number of you have always had a desire to go abroad, if you haven't already. Our college years are a great time to do this and more. At this age, we lack the responsibility of child rearing and mortgage payments. It's much easier to just get up one morning and decide to do something arbitrary. I've always wanted to go skydiving, so I might do that over Spring Break. Life is short -- live it up.

I have learned a lot during my short 21 years on Earth. I've experienced some hardship and pain. Through hard knocks, tears and a good look in the mirror, I've come to a very intimate conclusion about life. It's fragile and too short to go to waste. An average American's lifespan is a mere 78 years. As Mark Twain said, "In 20 years, you will be more disappointed by what you didn't do than by what you did." During our prime college-age years of 18-22, we are brimming with excitement and passion. We should divert this energy into the things we feel most strongly about. Pursue a hobby you have always been interested in, learn a new language, or start that business that's been brewing in the back of your mind. A collegiate education is critical in today's competitive environment, however, you should take time out of your busy day to enjoy life. I believe sometimes we get so wrapped up in our work that we fail to remember we need to enjoy ourselves and do the things we want to do.

Ultimately, when the sun begins to set on your life, you will finally begin to realize that you only have one life to live.