Have you ever made a decision that changed everything for you or someone else? Did you know it would change what it did? How did you let it impact you moving forward?
Every moment is the start of a journey. We make decisions thousands of times a day, many of which keep us on the same path or adjust us to a different destination. Sometimes we know when we decide if the outcome will be the same or not, but in many cases, we don’t know, or we couldn’t know or even comprehend how a decision so small could change everything. Every moment is the beginning of our future, and if we can understand that and treat it as a gift, there is a sea of endless opportunities ahead of us. This mindset is much easier in theory than in practice, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t still embed it in our mind and strive to achieve that mentality on life.
For me, new beginnings were always tainted by the memories of my past. I am continually reviewing, comparing, and analyzing as I move forward to understand what went wrong in the past and avoid those things occurring again in the future. It has always been my nature to think this way, to fix and correct to prevent future pain, for me or anyone else. I am a protector by nature, and when I see people in pain, I try to help.
Ironically, many of the moments we associate as a beginning of sorts in our life come after pain or trauma. These moments are usually ones we want to forget. Some brought us through the mud, to a new path we may not have chosen. While the timeline varies for everyone, there can often be a turning point that changes everything for a person. If we’re lucky, the turning point comes from something positive, but it feels like those are less likely to occur, or maybe we don’t hear about them enough to cheer them on.
The decision to start a new will only be followed through if we believe in the journey ahead. Without the right mindset and a resolution that we will forge on even when times get tough, we set ourselves up for failure. It can become a pipe dream and fantasy, which will waste our time and energy if we let it. If we genuinely want something to happen, we will make it happen. We are highly capable humans when we don’t get in our own way.
I thought back on the many times I started a new path, or life even, over the years. Surprisingly, there are quite a few, and I did not reach a destination I planned for on most of them. In a few, I failed miserably and ended up hurting some people along the way.
When I went off to college, I wanted a fresh start. I felt suffocated by a life decided on by my parents, so when I went away, I tried to figure out who I was while away from that environment. Unfortunately, that experiment failed. I was still too close, connected to my family business and all the people who knew me before. I put too much pressure on myself to be a different person, so it felt like a failure on multiple levels. While in college, I made some amazing girlfriends who were always there for me when I needed them. They were always up for a chat, a coffee or tea, a movie, or trying a new restaurant or brunch spot. We didn’t all have the same belief systems, styles, or mentality on many things in the world, but they always welcomed discussing and communicating through our differences, and we all accepted each other for our unique perspectives.
In trying to cope with my inability to become a new person, I wrongly blamed my failure on anything and everyone else but myself. Unfortunately, and regrettably, that included my close-knit group of girlfriends as well. When I got home, I started creating distance between myself and them because of the blame I placed on them, which they didn’t deserve. I never spoke to them, even to this day, to say sorry for any of it. I plan to do it at some point when my embarrassment fades a bit, and the shame subsides. They were nothing but gracious through it all. They knew me well, so they may have seen it more clearly than even I saw it at the time. If I could go back and change how I acted, I would, but I can only learn from it and never do it again. Knowing that I hurt them and did nothing about it had haunted me for about 18 years now.
The result of that journey was a reset. I had come full circle, back living at home with my parents, a little worse for wear, and traumatized by my failure to grow into the person I thought I would become. Some journeys are like the game Chutes and Ladders. Sometimes you must go back to the beginning, or a previous point, down a winding slide or steep ladder to begin again. We hope the next time we embark, we have a few more skills and lessons learned to make it farther than before. If we choose to embark again without preparing for the next attempt, we are destined to fail, as we did before, and it is no one’s fault but our own.
One of my favorite quotes from Grey’s Anatomy is, “Take a good hard look at your life. If it is not working, shut up and fix it.” Own your failures and learn from them. Try again and see what you learn the next time you fail. If you’re lucky enough, you may not even fail, and when that happens, it is going to feel amazing.