I don’t know who you are or where you came from, but I’m sure you’ve got one hell of a story to tell. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t. You, my friend, have a unique and enthralling past in some way or another. We all do. As exciting as that is to hear, that you have a one-of-a-kind past worth sharing, it doesn’t matter. Everything that happened yesterday, every bad decision, every little mistake, even every accomplishment doesn’t matter because today is the first day of the rest of your life.
Let that sink in: Your past doesn’t matter.
For some of you, I’m sure that’s hard to hear. I know that you’ve overcome so much to become the strong, competent person you are today. Give yourself a pat on the back.
I’m sure you’ve come very far, but you’ll never go as far as you possibly can if you keep believing that your past defines you.
Our past weighs us down. We all have that one big, life-altering mistake or tragedy that has made us who we are today. It’s what keeps us up at night. It’s what makes us vulnerable. It’s what can make us curl up in a corner and listen to sad Taylor Swift songs in the dark over and over again (not that I would know, or anything). Your past is keeping you from your full potential.
I know exactly what you’re going through because I’m going through the same thing.
Let me tell you a little about my life right now: Nothing has turned out the way I thought it would. I am 23, in mountains of debt from student loans, basically unemployed, and living more than ten hours away from any family I have or any home I’ve ever spent a significant amount of time in. I have no money and no clue what the hell to do with my life. Over the past month, I must have taken about 20 personality tests to figure out what direction I’m supposed to be heading in, and all any of these personality tests can tell me is that I’m an extrovert.
Since I barely have a job, I have a lot of free time. I’ve spent a lot of it wondering where, from the womb to my couch, I messed up so badly that I wound up here, unemployed and trying my hardest not to spend money I don’t have in central Florida, the amusement capitol of the world. After making diagrams and answering too many soul-searching questionnaires to count, I narrowed it down to one bad mistake I made about three years ago. Then, I realized that I can trace every not-so-great thing that has happened to me afterwards to that one mistake.
And today, I realized that this mistake that has haunted me every night for three whole years doesn’t matter.
Growing up, I hated the small town my mom and I lived in. The second I got out of high school, I moved to Chicago for college. I attended that college for two years, and then transferred to a different college in the middle of nowhere. One of the reasons I transferred was because I, honestly, couldn’t handle the city. By the time I left, I thought that every single person I passed on the street had a gun and could shoot me with it at any minute. The other reason was, of course, a boy. I gave up my big city dreams for a stupid boy whose favorite hobby was sitting in
his room and smoking weed. As you can imagine, it didn’t go well. By the end of my first semester, my boyfriend and I had broken up, my grades were tanking, and my mental health was failing. After I had failed in the big city that I had worked so hard to get to in high school, I was failing at my new school, in my new life.
I eventually found my footing, but only for a short time. I had known from the beginning that I didn’t want to stay in my small college town, so by the time I finally had it all figured out, I had to leave again. Then I had the best summer of my life. Then I had a fantastic job with even better friends, which led to the opportunity of a lifetime, to fulfill my lifelong dream of moving to California and working with one of my all-time favorite companies. Then — surprise! I failed again.
Despite how my Instagram pictures made my time in California look, I failed miserably there. I cried every day for about three months. I stopped eating for about a month because I didn’t have money. I was feverishly sick constantly and even spent an entire day doing nothing but sleeping and puking. I didn’t like my job and I missed my old friends too much to even attempt to make new ones. All I did for the first three months I lived in California was sleep, watch Netflix, take an unhealthy amount of DayQuil, and work. Just like I had failed in Chicago, I was failing in California. And just like I was failing California, I am now failing here.
If you can’t tell, the constant theme is failure. Why do I keep failing in all of the places that I desperately want to be? Why can’t I just do what I want to do? It seems so easy, right? Just do what you want to do. But when every door seems to have slammed in your face for the past few years, it’s hard to believe in yourself. It’s hard to gather up the strength to keep trying for that job you want, for that healthy relationship you’re not sure you deserve, for that solid circle of friends that will actually stick around this time, whatever it is that you want.
Yes, what happened yesterday has made you who you are today. But what happened in the past has nothing to do with who you can become tomorrow.
Who do you want to become tomorrow? Seriously, ask yourself this.
What kind of person do you want to be? What do you want to accomplish?
The things that you struggled so hard with in the past have nothing to do with this person, the person you are destined to become. Those things do not define you and, thus, should not hold you back from getting what you want. Personally, my fear of failure has held me back from trying new things and seeking out new opportunities for far too long. For you, it might be something different.
Whatever it is, don’t let it hinder you.
Today is the first day of the rest of your life. What happened yesterday doesn’t matter.
Make today yours.