Life is imperfect. Beautiful and burdensome, complicated and messy. And sometimes amidst the beauty and the burdens, the complications, and the mess, we tend to get stuck and stay stuck. We run into walls, face obstacles, get thrown down and for some reason, we feel like it’s not going to ever work out and so we stay right there, not even making the effort to start over.
I’m here to tell you that you are not stuck in the life you have now unless you choose to be, even if it may feel that way. You may tell yourself ‘If only I had been born into better circumstances’ or ‘If only I did something differently earlier in my life’ things wouldn’t be the way they are. All of this may be true. But what is also true is that you cannot change anything about the past. You only have this moment and this life right now.
For me, growing up, I saw two very different people in my parents. One was always making lemonade out of lemons, fighting for his goals, not letting anything or anyone stop him, and making the most of every opportunity. The other was always stuck, working against herself instead of for herself, never seeing the big picture, and not working for something greater and better. You can imagine how very different their lives are today.
The problem with succumbing to the idea that it’s too late to start over is that as you keep getting older, you begin to regret all the things you could have done, should have done, or would have done differently. And when regret sets in, it can cause you to throw up your hands and say ‘oh, what’s the use now?’
Life can have its rough patches again and again, but whenever we need to, it’s always a good idea to take a step back and start over in the areas that we know we can. Age may affect some parts of our lives when it comes to starting over, but that’s okay as long as you can figure out what makes you happy along the way. F. Scott Fitzgerald said it perfectly when he wrote, “For what it’s worth: It’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over.”
If you have found the strength to start over — even if it’s just an inkling of strength right now – here is some advice on how to get started:
Identify what you want to begin again.
And please don’t say “my entire life”. If you choose your entire life, you’ll be defeated before you start. Pick one thing and make it your starting point. It can be to get a new job, to make better friends or even to go back to school. It doesn’t matter what it is, just identify one thing. Once you start over at that one thing, it makes it easier to start over in other areas.
Identify what’s stopping you.
Yes, there is something or someone that is standing in your way. If there wasn’t, you would have done these things already. Pinpoint everything that is in the way of you starting over and beginning a new journey in your life. Then take necessary steps to remove it.
Identify what’s under your control.
Starting over in almost any area of life is mostly a mentality – a choice to be in control of your life, to influence what is under your power, and to let go of the rest. There is always something you can do but sometimes we waste energy focusing on the things beyond our control. Determine what you can control and then plan all your steps around it.
Change can feel overwhelming, even frustrating. In the back of your mind, there will be the recurring thought of what you could have been. But don’t wait to start over, do it now. As George Eliot said, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”
Collaboration with Cassandra Vella