Learning from the Past, or Living in It?

I can’t tell what hurts more: the steady passing of time or the questions that fill up the empty space between years.

How could I know?

My mom shared a video on her Facebook page the other day as she so often does, but this specific one caught my attention. It was the graduation video she had made for me when I finished my time in high school.

This was the first time that I had seen it since my party six years ago. I recognized a lot of the pictures as they are mainstay’s within my picture albums, but there were those I had forgotten about. Moments buried in time that I remember being shrouded in personal pain, but these pictures captured a feeling in my heart that I can only describe as joy.

My high school years were relatively confusing on a personal level. I didn’t know who I was and I didn’t know who to become. I was surrounded by individuals immensely more attractive, humorous, and “put together” than I was so I tried to become those people.

It’s funny how I didn’t know who I was, yet I tried to become something more than that. I tried being “on my toes” with witty remarks, funny comebacks, or deep insights into life. All that I was, though, was a fraud. I wasn’t quick on my feet. I was slow to respond. I hadn’t learned enough in life to merit being wise.

I didn’t fit in.

I was bullied. I was labeled obnoxious. I had very few friends. Those around me lived their lives as though I was an inconvenience.

The phrase that comes to mind to aptly describe it all would be “socially awkward.”

Knowing all of this, I tried anyway. I made a fool of myself in order to make people laugh. I ditched the Harry Potter-Esque glasses in favor of contacts. I started playing sports again.

I tried.

In short order, it worked. My friends became more accepting of me. They let me into their inner circles. I was finally able to share inside jokes with people. I felt like I belonged.

Unfortunately, the acceptance wasn’t because of who I was. It was because of who I turned myself into. I wasn’t the only one who went through it. If were to ask my sisters they would tell you the same thing. We were forced to adapt.

Unhealthy is a good way to label it. We lived among people who were trying to find themselves just as we were, but they did so in their public image. They put on a good show. If you didn’t look the part, you couldn’t be a part. End of story.

So, why do I miss it?

Why do I see pictures flash on my computer screen and find myself longing to have those days back? Should I not have hated my time there? Sure, I was really obnoxious and had a lot of acne. Do I blame them for taking their time to let me “in?”

Why does any of it matter?

I’m realizing, as I write this, that it isn’t the unanswered questions of time that hurt the most. It’s the realization of time moving forward.

I suppose my seeing the video opened up my eyes to how much time has passed in between. It makes me understand that I can’t stop time. It makes me accept that I am getting older and so is everything else around me. It scares me.

There are many memories that I wish I could return to and do-over. I saw pictures of previous girlfriends who I had the opportunity to share parts of my heart and life with. Some of them come with immense regrets. Some of them come with unabridged joy.

I saw pictures of old friends, and I wonder where life has brought them. I know that some are married and have children. I know that some have are not what they used to be. I know that some of them have died. I wonder if they think of me as I do them?

I wonder if they think of me as I do them?

Whether any of these individuals are associated with good or bad memories, it doesn’t matter. They have all been a part of a beautiful story that God is weaving together. Each of them has played a part in my life, and I’m thankful for all of them.

As it relates to accepting the progression of time, I suppose you just have to let it be. Visiting the past to remember people and lessons are good, but there’s a reason our past isn’t the present. It’s meant to be learned from, not lived in.

I didn’t plan on incorporating a moral to the story. You all know that I write my heart. Sometimes I have the wisdom to share, sometimes I don’t. I will finish by saying this, though.

No matter who comes into your life, whether they help you or hurt you, they are there for a purpose. There’s a bigger picture to life than you can see right now.

Do you find yourself living in the past too often? Does it help or hurt you? How have other people been used in your life to shape you into who you are? Let me know in the comments below.

You are loved.

You are valued.

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7 Replies to “Learning from the Past, or Living in It?”

  1. I was lucky enough to find the group of “dorks” that accepted me the way I was. We were looked down on by a lot of people, but we didn’t care because we had a group of us to share it. But, I do look back, as my 30th reunion is rapidly (too rapidly) approaching and wonder what those other people think of me now. I’ve been very open of Facebook, since disability was approved, about my illness. And now it gives me pause. If I go to this reunion, what happens now.

    I had a long conversation with my grandmother the other day about lessons from God. I told her of my mental illness and how I feel that this has been given to me to help others learn. I think that looking back is healthy, as long as you’re looking for your lessons. Sometimes you may have fulfilled God’s plan of learning something, and sometimes not. If not, then that’s something to work on.

    Just one old lady’s opinion. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never was going to change who I was to accommodate people. I had to learn to grow into myself and not only “discover myself” but also be comfortable with me. Still, I also wasn’t going to be a jerk, I still tried to be nice to people and help them where they were at but it’s different when you find “your people” or “fam” ;). Sometimes I wish my past was different but then I wouldn’t be the person I am today, with the bad and the good but mostly bad… :).

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You’re now where near as awkward as me. I have a “wonderful” habit of saying the strangest things… 😉


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