Reflecting on progress > obsessing about the past

It’s high June and I’m going to express to you that most of June is SWELTERING here in Southern California. At least by my standards. Not that that says much; being born and raised in Southern California imbues one with an intolerance for real-life weather, let’s be real.

However, there are bigger things that I’ve been known to express, such as my feelings on hot-topic issues, my personal life, and my ever-evolving career path.

At times, I’ll admit that I wish I would have stayed silent.

If you Google my real name, you’ll find a bevy of articles and musings that show snapshots of me during particular times. These pieces, to their credit, reflected my thoughts, style, diction, and values at the time. Fair enough. Unfortunately, many of these are cringe-worthy and incongruent to the H that exists now. And many times, I think to myself, “Why, why did I write this? Why did I do this? What was I thinking? This is embarrassing.”

I’m sure you, Reader, experience the same thing. Perhaps you’re in the middle of a conversation when someone brings up the time that you got into a fist fight in the middle of some bar in some town, a memory which you thought nobody still knew or cared about after, what was it, 7, 8, years?

Or maybe you’re looking at a family photo album and notice that a few pictures from your “scene kid” phase have moseyed their way into those plastic pages. “My god,” you think, “was that even me?”

Or it may be that you’re like me, agitated in bed one night, Googling yourself and trying not to sound irate when e-mailing websites to “PLEASE. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. TAKE MY OLD ARTICLE DOWN. THAT’S NOT ME. I DON’T KNOW HER.” (I’m lookin’ at you, Thought Catalog!)

Whether it’s our old way of being, manner of speaking, style of dress, working style, writing style, or whatever, we all have a past. We have all grown and changed since the days of our past. We’ve gained new knowledge, new experiences, and new perspectives. We are us, but better.

The idea that we can come to terms with these past selves and realize that we are here at Ourselves 2.0 (or 3.0, or 4.0) because of them is easier said than done. I’m sure many of you reading this look at a past work decision (for example) and still regret it to this day. Even if you’re doing more-than-okay now, you’re probably still thinking, “What could I have done differently/better?”

I don’t mean to discredit your concerns, but there is no bigger waste of time than thinking that thought in your head. However, change that sentence to “What can I do differently next time?” and we have ourselves a winner.

Even then, we have to understand the limitations of that approach. Sometimes, what we do in Moment A, while it might not have been totally ideal, felt right at the time and still led us to make other good decisions/gain knowledge. Sometimes we simply have to own the fact that our truth was the truth at the time. Moreover, we cannot apply our lessons learned as blanket solutions to every problem. Every problem that comes up is complex; we will probably never “solve” any of them perfectly, no matter how much thinking we do or how many “logical” actions we take.

Now, I’m not saying that we should act with reckless abandon or never reflect on our mistakes. Of course we should! But we need to change our approach. Ruminating is tiresome and it solves nothing. Harsh, but true. And this is coming from someone who was once the Ruminator to End All Ruminators.

So, if you haven’t yet already, remind yourself that it’s okay that you said/did/wore that thing that one time. You’re awesome now. You’ll be even more awesome in the future. Hold onto that.

-H

(Note: Artwork is credited to KijaDoll from Deviantart)

 

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