The Myth of “Starting Over” and Why it Matters.

“Numb the dark and you numb the light.” Brene Brown

    In the midst of new surroundings, schedules, jobs, and relationships, the topic of “new starts” is popular. Perhaps because it’s a new school year, and I live in a college town, I feel like I’m hearing hopeful sentiments for new starts all around me. If these sentiments are expressed the way I’ve expressed this desire, it’s usually with the imagined hope of being this brand-spankin’ new person who does all the things they didn’t before, who never falls behind, who suddenly makes better decisions, and all the troubles and habits and issues from the past are mysteriously gone from the present. I’ve done this. I still do this.

   A desire to “start over” shows there’s awareness of things not serving our best selves and purposes. And that’s noble. But to shove those parts of ourselves and our lives into our past and bury them there, indulging in the shame we carry over these things, that’s not moving forward. That is not growth. In fact, it’s hiding. Its numbing ourselves from the discomfort we’d feel if we really face these things head-on. Ultimately, it diverts us from the work that needs to be done to become these “best selves” that we’re imagining we’re going to be. When we get that desire to “start over” in our lives, and I’m looking at myself here too, we need to ask why.

    Why do you feel the need to “start over”? What about your experiences and life causes you so much guilt, shame, or fear that you feel like it can’t be any part of this new self you’re creating? Letting things die, part of ourselves, experiences, is an important part of growing. But we must face our shame, feel it, and choose to give ourselves grace and love despite failings, imperfections, and discomfort; that’s where healing and real growth, real change, begins. This is not to suggest that we’ll then tote our pains with us through life. Everywhere you’ve been, people you’ve known, things you’ve done, they’ll be with you forever; BUT you get to choose at what capacity they affect, if at all, your life. 

    Every part of our lives has value even if looking back over it makes you cringe. Accepting the cringe-worthy, a vital part of self-acceptance, allows us to put those events, habits, and relationships aside. We can leave them in the past with a sense of peace because we know that they are not shameful or embarrassing; they’re a vital part of who we are now. For myself and others who seek to “start over” when life isn’t looking the way we want, who sometimes want to hide away who and how we’ve been, I challenge you to not. Instead of “starting over,” offer up a hefty dose of grace and self-love, feel what you feel, and simply move forward with what you are, how you are, who you are right now. 

The Power of Rejection

Recently I’ve been faced with several rejections, all having to do with my work in one way or another. While I did feel well…rejected, the way I instinctively reacted to one versus another struck me as interesting.

In one situation, while there was still the sting of rejection, I wasn’t surprised and I wasn’t deeply wounded. In another, I was totally bummed out for days. And as I contemplated this it occurred to me that these rejections were revealing my priorities to me. They were showing me what I care about. 

Rejection can be painful. Seriously painful in some circumstances. But it is also necessary. The chains of rejection in our lives have the power to reveal what we really care about, to highlight the chances we do and do not take, and ultimately to call us to evolve; to evolve how we think, how we work, how and why we make the decisions we do, how we submit resumes, audition, present ourselves to the world, and how we shoulder feelings of defeat. Rejection, if soberly felt and utilized wisely, has the power to pointedly guide you back to your inner compass. That’s some powerful stuff!

In short, rejection is a gift. 

As I wade through the rejections in my life, clumsily attempting to learn the lessons they offer, I’d love to hear from you. What rejections have guided you (small and big), brought you back, pushed you forward? 

The perfect prayer

I sit cross-legged,

My hands in prayer.

From my practice sweat glistens on my face.

My thoughts press in but I let them be.

On by, again and again, they race.

There’s something to say, I feel it inside.

I search for reasons, for words to be there.

My mind bursts with what I want from the Goddess, from the Universe,

but for now that’s not the message my soul bears.

I so want to feel something,

to say the perfect prayer,

and then there in the dark, I’m hit.

“Thank you,” I utter. All is still. My heart swells.

And that’s enough. I know those words were it.