Dear girls of the world: don’t live vicariou...

Dear girls of the world: don’t live vicariously through other people. Join the club!

Dear girls of the world,

“I live vicariously through you,” a friend told me.

Vica-what? It hasn’t been added to my vocab database then so I googled the meaning.

Vicariously: (adj.) indirectly, as, by, or through a substitute

Let’s define it further.

“Vicariously is the adverb form of the word vicarious, which also involves experiencing something through another person. The Latin influence is the word vicarious, which means “substitute.” If you experience something vicariously, in a sense you’re a substitute who’s getting something secondhand. ” –

So my friend was basically telling me that by examining my life through social media she is living my life. That when she sees photos of my travels she gets to travel, of delicious food that I ate then she gets to eat them, of the adventures that I took she gets to do them, of the goals that I achieved then she gets to achieve them. Wait what? Is this how people want to live? They see something that other people have and they make believe that it’s theirs?

I think I need a divine intervention. #travel #coffeehan #ootd #fashion #bgc #taguig

A photo posted by Marjorie Gavan (@coffeehan2010) on

Because really when you really think about it, living vicariously is a form of make-believe. It’s like when you see a cake that you want so bad then somebody else eats it and in your head, that’s fine, I ate the cake through that person. I mean seriously do you want to just watch? Don’t you want that cake for yourself? Don’t you want to sink your teeth into that soft, bittersweet chocolatey goodness that would make you swear it’s better than sex (but not really, but it’s close!).

I say this now but in truth, I understand the theory of living vicariously because for many years I lived by it. We’ve all been there really. When I was younger I lived through movies and TV shows, imagining I was the protagonist, visualizing a romance on a holiday trip, dreaming about touring the world as a rockstar, living for the adventures of book characters that I loved. For many years I was the person who merely looked out of the window, afraid of going out but despairing to explore the world and live the life that I want. I was not okay being a watcher or a witness to somebody else’s success, but for a very long time I confined myself in that small space that nobody created but myself. I have always felt alone, gritting my teeth with envy, telling myself I was born for greatness, but paralyzed to stretch a muscle.

I called this as my “sleeping years.” I was filled with ambitions that didn’t leave the insides of my skull. I was a true-blue day dreamer; my mind would always wander off somewhere else, to the lands I have never been before, to the arms of gorgeous movie stars, to the life I would have bought for myself if I only I could afford it. My friends always called out on my tendency to space out, that I would be physically present but never in the moment. They couldn’t reach out to me and I have always felt the need to disassociate myself. I loved them dearly, but I couldn’t quell the constant yearning to not be there and be in a place or life that I have crafted so well inside my head instead.    

What was the reason for it? I was afraid and I never really believed that things can be achieved. Not that I didn’t try, but I have been comfortable living in the negative and setting limits for myself that it was quite difficult to break out from the habit. And when you live your life with so much pessimism, pessimism becomes you. You become this person who would live with so much wanting but never really tries that hard. Every failure would slow you down instead of propel you to move forward. You would then start to believe that the universe conspires against you. The unfortunate thing is, whatever you think is, no matter how destructive, is always right. And so I have lived a life unlived for so many years because I believed in in my limitations, I believed in the impossibilities, I believed in rejection and fears.

But girl, I have a good news for you, this can all be undone. The restricting beliefs can be unlearned, the limitations you have set for yourself can be broken, the rejections you’ve faced can be your source of strength. But it would take that one step and that step is called “decision.” You will decide that once and for all you, you are going to double your effort and you will never stop trying. You will decide to stop watching and start living. You will decide that looking through that window is not enough and that you must go out out of that window (go climb out of that window if you can’t find a door!).

And I assure you that it is going to be the best decision you will ever make in your life. When you are finally out there sipping pina colada by the beach deepening your tan, when you fall in love and kiss a real person for the first time, when you feel the strain on your legs and struggle for breath while trying to conquer a mountain, when you meet and talk with strangers and hear about their greatest adventures, when you feel the air hit your face as you zip hundreds of feet off the ground over the lush trees and mountain, when you feel scared but fascinated swimming over a sunken ship, these are the things that would make you feel alive.

Some of the most fun experiences I have ever had happened when I decided to just do it no matter how frightened I was. When I traveled on my lonesome for the first time in Palawan, when my colleagues backed out from our trip to Vietnam and Cambodia and I pushed through even when I had to do it alone, when I climbed all the way to the top of Umeda Sky tower in Japan despite my crippling fear of heights, when I chose to love a man despite the uncertainty of it all, when I left a company that was hurting my soul even when I haven’t found a new job, and most of all, when I chose to let go of some toxic people notwithstanding the fact that I have cared and loved them for so many years, all these came from making a decision. The process may not always be smooth sailing, but I found that in the end, they always lead me to where I am supposed to be.

You may regret why you had to wait, you may hate yourself for wasting your time, but most of all you will be proud of yourself that finally, you are not just an audience, this time, you are the star. And girl, if you do not know yet then let me tell you that you are indeed a rockstar. You are not here to live through others, you are meant to live your own life. Your life’s greatest adventure is waiting for you, you just have to decide.



who is a technical writer in Makati, moonlighting as a blogger, and planning her next escape plan

Do you have anything to say to the girls of the world? Use this channel as your voice! E-mail trishavelarmino[at]gmail[dot]com with subject “Dear girls of the world series.” I would love to hear from you!

This BS Journalism graduate from Lyceum of the Philippines has come a long way from the skinny 11-year-old who secretly writes poetry. She now has 14 years of writing and editing experience in the field of marketing, public relation, technical writing, government service, and blogging. She is one of those people who always complains about not having enough money but she travels a lot and eats a damn lot too. She loves drinking coffee and is planning to make the addiction more meaningful by taking a coffee-making course. She can visualize herself owning her own cafe in the near future and she plans to name it after her blog,

  1. Elisa

    9 December

    I like your kind of writing and you are right.

  2. Jerny

    9 December

    True, be not an audience. Be a star. Do not live by other’s way of living. You are unique. You are different. Accept this fact and you get to live life with fulfilment. Travel, write, create your own movements. Live the life it should be lived.

    • Marge

      10 December

      You are so right Jerny. I hope more people would come to realize this and start living their life.

  3. neha

    10 December

    Your post has some deep insights. Although I don’t know how some one can live vicariously, I do am learning more and more of how to live in the present moment..because that is something I am not best at

    • Marge

      10 December

      Hey Neha! Not living in the moment used to be my struggle too, I find meditation to be helpful when it comes to that. Hope it works for you.

  4. Sara Broers

    10 December

    You are spot on! I’m glad you have been able to see how important it is to live your life and not someone else’s. It’s fun to see how other people live, but it’s so much more fun, when we each make it OUR life! Happy travels and those little travel bumps, are what make your travels more memorable!

    • Marge

      10 December

      Exactly Sara! It’s more fun if you run the show!

  5. Hra

    10 December

    You are right sweetie!! Great post thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  6. Hugo

    10 December

    Great writing! We all live through others a little bit. That’s how we get inspiration to do new and interesting things.

  7. Sandy N Vyjay

    11 December

    Many people live vicariously their entire lives. But is that kind of life really worth living? I would say for girls and guys alike, take charge of life the way only you can and experience each minute, each second and each nanosecond as if it was the last. This is the only way that life is meant to be lived.

  8. Shobha

    11 December

    I do live vicariously through the blogs I read! I’m married with kids now so if I want to do random adventure travels like the Mongol Rally I am going to have to do it through someone else’s blog. Living vicariously isn’t so bad assuming that isn’t all that you do.

  9. Joan Torres

    11 December

    If you compare to other you’ll never be happy! Just be yourself, set your own goals and you’ll be fine! Great reflection 🙂

  10. sabrina barbante

    11 December

    Interesting new word 🙂 Never truly experienced the vicariously- ness 🙂 I mean, I’ve been dreaming about other lands thanks to movies, blogs (like this) but it all was an inspiration, not delegating it all to someone else. So I agree with you: there’s no point in living it all trough other people’s experience! Just get inspired by others to do the same 🙂

  11. Mia

    12 December

    Yes, live your own amazing life and don’t settle for letting other people live it for you. Obviously, not everyone has the means to traipse around the world on a regular basis but people can make their own adventures. Plus, you don’t have to go far to have an adventure. Great post!

  12. Mar Pages

    12 December

    I’m so happy you “woke up” from your “sleeping years.” I really think your post is going to inspire some other people to get up and go and remove “vicariously” from there lexicon. Beautifully written post.

  13. chrysoula

    12 December

    What you say is so true. Most people live through the life of others. It is in our hands taking one step at the time to live our own lives and do the things we really love.

  14. Megan

    15 December

    Love this approach. I think it’s too easy to settle with what’s in front of you. It’s great to gain from others experiences but not at the expense of not having your own.

  15. Gypsycouple

    18 December

    It is so important to realise this early on in your life. People tend to get the epiphany after they’ve lived their entire youth living someone else’s dream. It’s always a choice and one we have to take to live life on our terms.

  16. Arni

    11 February

    Your other writings link brought me to this post. I can’t believe I missed this! I’m so glad social media didn’t exist when I was younger. Nowadays, it’s so easy to get carried away living someone else’s dream while being online. There’s this quiet pressure that I witness towards the younger generation to keep up. Kudos to you girl for taking the plunge in anything you have set your heart and mind on.

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