To Those Who Are Starting Over

Why would you choose to start over?

“Start over”, in this context, is used to cover all domains of life. One may choose to start over in a career, a relationship, an entire life.

There may be as many different reasons for embarking on a new beginning as there are people who decide upon it. But the common emotion that strings through them all is that intense desire for another chance at a clean slate; another chance to do things “right” – whatever “right” may mean to each.

Reaching this decision is not a passive, peaceful process. You don’t wake up one day and say to yourself: “I would like to leave everything behind… and see if I can find or make something better.” Rather you are led, or perhaps shoved, to face this juncture by an upheaval, an abrupt force of life. This force may take the form of circumstances you have no control over, or it may take the form of an inner hard-to-define turmoil. It may take a moment’s notice, or it may require years and decades to reach its peak. You don’t decide to start over in the midst of languid contentment; you choose this as a response to a revolution, or to bring about one.

Whatever it is that led you here, one thing is certain: It must be your decision. You must own it. You must take responsibility for it. To do otherwise is to relinquish blame, as well as power, over your choices and the outcome of your entire life. To do otherwise is to be stuck in limbo – where you can see the dividing line in front of you but fail to gather courage to cross over. Because that is what it is: a dividing line between your old and new self, your old and new life.

This dividing line is one that you create, one that is visible only to you, and whose importance is only discernible to you. This dividing line is your New Beginning. You transition only from one side to the other when your decision has been made wholeheartedly. This prior condition is of utmost necessity as your new beginning will require much from you.

There is a kind of romance associated with the terms “starting over”, “new beginnings”, and “second chances”. It is borne of a naïve expectation of “happily-ever-after”, or at the very least an anticipation of better conditions than the ones you’re leaving behind. This optimism is natural – otherwise, why go through the sacrifice of throwing away the familiar and plunging into the unknown?

Brace yourself. To begin anew is to contend with gritty reality – one wherein your fantastical notions of the ideal self and ideal life are held up against a whole world of cares and complications that accompany the process of rebuilding from the ground up. You’ll be caught unprepared by myriads of problems that you never considered. Uncertainty will be a constant default, and you will find yourself questioning every decision you make. You will wander aimlessly. You will be shadowed by boredom and frustration.

No one said it will be easy. It’s definitely not.

I’m here to tell you that despite all these things, it is worth it. You are creating a new life for yourself; you are breaking new ground. It is a process that requires perseverance, strength of character, and most of all: heart. You’re taking an enormous bet to leave what you know behind because you believe you can have something better. What that ‘something’ is may not be entirely clear at this point. What is important is that you have faith in it, you placed your hope on it, and that you know you are going to achieve it.

To start over is to fully accept that life has no guarantees. Unexpected forces have led you here; they will continue to act on your path. Life has not turned out perfectly the way you wanted it to, and it will continue to do so. You have made mistakes, you have failed. Tomorrow you will do so again and again.  

But this time around, whatever you encounter on your path, you will persist. Whatever force may derail you, you will move forward. This time around, you will face everything and everyone that comes your way, (you will refuse to let life pass you by in defeated stupor), and use them in striving to become better and to build better. This time around, you will learn to accept and forgive one and all… but most important, yourself.

You have been tried, and you came out a bit beaten up – older, disillusioned, with a lifetime of issues and regrets trailing behind you. But also, a bit toughened up, a bit wizened. Yes, stronger. You have been tried, and you survived. This time around, you will survive and thrive.

This is the most important point in your life so far. Step forward on to a new beginning. And to the unknown beyond. Thought Catalog Logo Mark


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