A Tangled Path to Acceptance

Let me ask you this on this Friday morning: how often have you looked back on your life, no matter how positive or not so positive it has been and regretted a choice, thought, or decision you’ve made? To that end, how many times have you thought, if only? If only I had made a different decision or choice – if only I had taken a chance, or maybe, if only I hadn’t taken that chance? It is often easier and even, sadly, a widely-accepted social norm to berate or chastise oneself for the decisions one made or didn’t make.

Instead of focusing on the reasons WHY we made that particular decision or choice, we focus on where it has lead us to, what we have lost, or the ramifications of it. Instead of focusing on what actually drove these past choices, we may ruminate, analyze, or play out scenarios in our head of what our lives might have been like if we’d made different choices or taken different paths. Often times, this only leads us to sadness or regret and as a result, we spend much of our time dwelling in the past, envisioning a life we don’t have instead of relishing in what we DO have and the time we have been given to live it.

On the flip side, there can in fact be positives to reflecting on the past. It can keep us from making future poor decisions or provide us with insight into difficult choices, decisions and other situations within our lives. Self-acceptance has often been something I’ve struggled with in particular through the years and acknowledging where I am at the present time. Being kinder to myself is something I hope and wish to employ at I begin my 28th year on Tuesday, May 3rd.

Begin Again quote

As I said last year on my 27th birthday, for those of you who may recall, birthdays for me are often a chance to set a new goal, a new dream, or maybe the decision to choose to pursue a goal I neglected, but always harbored within me. With that being said, my goal for my 28th year, is to acknowledge I may not have or be living the life I believed I would, but then again, when I envisioned my life, I was a very young, impressionable adolescent or child, unaware of what life could bring or what I could encounter. I didn’t realize that the plans we make for ourselves can and will change as we grow and develop as a person and see more of what life has to offer. Some of these changes will be positive, some of them will be negative, but just because the path I thought I would take is vastly different, does not mean it is the one I will always lead. To get what we aspire to have out of life, we have to start somewhere. This year will be the year I decide to acknowledge what I’ve lost and the choices I made, but instead of ruminating and wallowing in self-pity, will choose to start again and adjust my sails.

After all, there truly is no time limit on when we can achieve our dreams or set new goals; why not start now?

Starting Over quote

Choices and their Consequences

About a month or two ago, while perusing several websites, including one of my favorites for books, Goodreads, I stumbled across an author whose two books called to me. Her third book, slated to be released this month, in July, was also one that had particular appeal to me, so I immediately requested all three from my local library. After reading the first two, already-released books, Taylor Jenkins Reid, the author of the books I am referring to, quickly became one of my favorite, go-to authors. Her writing is simple yet poignant, with words and stories I can easily relate to. The books have a certain flow to them, one where I can start reading, and then look at the clock next to me and realize an hour has passed. Her stories have the ability to take hold of deeply-etched emotions with me, bringing back feelings of the past and allowing me to deal and process with those sentiments I neglected years ago.

Taylor Jenkins Reid 1     Taylor Jenkins Reid 2

Needless to say, when I learned of the title of her newest, third novel, “Maybe in Another Life,” the memories of my past came flooding to me. I often spend chunks of the day wondering what my life would have been like if I had made another choice in various situations, or if I hadn’t made a choice at all, or if I had simply spoken up verbally, rather than through bodily actions. Throughout my life, I regrettably made a lot of rash decisions seeking instant gratification or to numb myself from the situation at hand, without considering future consequences. I suppose a part of that was being young, not realizing how the actions of the present time could prove to impact me in future years to come. Often as a teenager, it’s difficult to really understand the impact of our actions. I’ll be first admit I was self-centered in much of my adolescence, often believing it was a catastrophe if I had no weekend plans, or if I wasn’t invited out with friends. Sometimes it’s hard to believe that decisions made as a 17-year-old still feel hauntingly poignant in my life, now as a 27-year-old.

Taylor Jenkins Reid New

That being said, the title, Maybe in Another Life, has lead me to contemplate and wonder, some of the many “what-if’s,” in my life, so rather than have them running rampant in my often frenzied mind, I figured I would share them and ask those of you who might reading, how you might finish this sentence, “Maybe in another life, I would have…” The other day, the author herself, Taylor Jenkins Reid, posed this question on Twitter to her followers and it stayed with me, triggering an outpouring of memories and contemplations.

My senior year photo from 2006.

My senior year photo from 2006; sharing a time when a lot of the choices I made at that time proves to still impact me, very much so, today.

“Maybe in Another Life,”….

  • I would have been a magazine editor/journalist, working in the city, interviewing different types of people, writing articles, researching, and discovering my voice as a writer.
  • I would have a great group of friends who love me for who I am, no matter my quirks, who bring out the best me, who I would meet on the weekends for a lingering brunch of excellent food and conversation and share laughs about the latest TV shows, guys we’re dating, and other events.
  • I would have been in a loving relationship with a man who makes me feel loved, cared for and appreciated. He would love me for who I am, no matter the blemishes, imperfect aspects of my personality and body and would celebrate me for the person I am and who I’ve become. He would comfort me when sad, share in my laughs and tears, and hold my hand every night as we feel asleep together. With him, there would be no self-conscious feeling, no wondering if he likes or truly loves me, no games, but only simple, wholesome love.
  • I would have been married and a mom to children; children who would grow up to be loving, well-adjusted individuals.
  • I would have been more trusting and confident in my body, respecting myself and realizing I am not my body, but a woman with thoughts, feelings, dreams and goals who tries her hardest to be supportive and encouraging to others.
  • I would have a father in my life who loves and respects me and acknowledges/validates my feelings, who doesn’t make me feel ashamed of myself or ashamed of my body. He would offer me advice and provide me with encouragement and love.
  • I would travel extensively throughout the world, seeing different cultures, learning different languages and allowing myself to relish in the beauty of the various architecture and lands.
  • I would be able to eat and enjoy anything and everything I wanted, realizing that food is something to be enjoyed and celebrated, not pushed away or manipulated. I would enjoy plentiful meals with friends and family, cooking all the recipes I’d love to and able to share in the love that is that of homemade meals.
  • Most importantly though, maybe in another life, I would be confident enough to take the risks I think about taking and allow myself to feel pain and disappointment that might come with these risks, but realize failure isn’t final and that each new day is another chance to make a change and to even start all over again. Maybe in another life, I would have the courage to start over and live the past 10 years the way I thought I always would. Maybe in another life, I would realize it really isn’t too late, because every moment alive I’m given affords me with a chance for change and a chance for happiness.

Start Over Quote

So, now that I’ve told you some of my “maybe in another life” responses, I’d love to hear what some of yours are, if you’re willing to share, which I hope you will be. Thanks for taking the time to listen today.