Victims of the past. How often are we actually living in the past vs. the present? I’m guilty, I know I am. I work very hard to take from the past what I need to be a stronger, wiser, better person, and let all the rest go. I try to let all of the things that are no longer serving me disappear from sight. This is so much easier said than done.
I see it manifest as fear, causing a stunt in my growth, as a person, girlfriend, friend, business owner and teacher. This fear stems from my past. It comes from things I’ve personally experienced but also from stories I’ve heard from others, or fears that they’ve put in my head due to their lack of interest in my growth, or their own personal fears of my growth. This fear stops me from pursuing great opportunities, it stops me from getting closer to loved ones, it stops me from allowing myself to grow and learn and experience my life as I should be.
I see it manifest as insecurities, trapping myself in thoughts that are poisonous. I allow myself to relive the pain that others have inflicted on me. Pain caused by words, physical abuse, infidelity, dishonesty, “failures.” Maybe someone, at some point in my life, told me I wasn’t good enough, smart enough, strong enough or pretty enough. Maybe a good friend turned out to be not such a good friend. Maybe I wasn’t rewarded for a massive amount of work that I put into a project. Maybe someone I loved let the heat of the moment get the best of him. Then insecurities began to brew. These insecurities teach us to build walls, to pass on incredible opportunities, to turn down an invitation to meet new people. We become a prisoner of our past experiences.
I see it manifest in doubt. I doubt that I can become a successful business owner, or a great wife and mother. I doubt that I can go back to school and get good grades and graduate. I doubt that I can become a successful artist or musician. I doubt that I’m good enough.
The past however is nothing more than experiences that we actually need to grow and change and become who we really are. If it weren’t for these experiences, interactions, tragedies, traumas, successes and “failures,” how could we possibly ever know what we want from others, from ourselves and for our lives? Each and every single experience we have is a lesson. The skill that we need to learn throughout our lives is to take from this lesson what we need and to trash the rest.
If a friend turns out to be someone who doesn’t have your best interest in mind, take from this experience what you need to develop stronger relationships in the future. You might be able to see the red flags sooner the next time around. Once you’ve taken what you need from this lesson, let this friend go. Wish them well, cherish the good times you’ve had but let them go.
If you interviewed for a job, auditioned for a movie, wrote a script or a book, tried out for a play and it didn’t turn out the way you hoped, try again, and then again, and then again. 12 publishing houses rejected J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. She was a single mom living off welfare when she began writing the first Harry Potter novel. Walt Disney was fired from the Kansas City Star because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” Oprah Winfrey was fired from her first television job as an anchor in Baltimore. When Albert Einstein was young he had difficulty learning and communicating with other people and didn’t speak fluently until he was nine-years-old. Teachers thought he was slow. He was also refused admittance to the Zurich Polytechnic School. Steven Spielberg was rejected by the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts multiple times. If you have a dream, don’t ever give up! Listen to the constructive criticism and let it help you grow. Make the changes that you need to move forward, but do move forward. Let the positive feedback build you up and then let the rest go. There is nothing you can do to change the past, so learn and live and keep on moving.
You are good enough. You are strong enough. You are smart enough. You have talents that no one else in this world has. Your dreams deserve a chance. You owe it to yourself to let go of the past, to take the bits and pieces of all the good and bad things along the way and turn them into strengths. You owe it to the rest of the world and the people in it. People need whatever it is you have to offer. If your gift is medicine, give it to those in need. If your gift is comedy, make someone laugh. If your gift is art, let us see it. If your gift is nurturing, share it. Someone out there needs what you have to offer, lots of people need what you have to offer.
So instead of looking back in fear, swimming in your insecurities and living in your doubt, turn your head around and look forward. You’ve got a suitcase full of lessons for whatever’s ahead, but don’t let what’s not serving you deprive the rest of us of all that you have to offer.