PERSONAL CHANGE & GROWTH
Kill Your Darlings: You Can Never Be Who You Were, and That’s the Good News
What has gone is never coming back, which makes this the perfect time to ditch being better for being different.
With or without the devastating changes that come with living through a pandemic, one of the mistakes we make consistently throughout our lives is trying to be who we are in this moment when we’re in the next. Many of us are actively trying to be better than we were yesterday, but not different. Some of us are working diligently to become more skilled at our jobs when we should be pivoting to a new career. Some of us are dedicated to being more suited to our spouse when the truth of the matter is that we’re better off single right now. Some of us are trying to rebuild our lives to look exactly as they did before tragedy struck –– before the pandemic, before the job loss, before our houses went into foreclosure, or before our loved ones died. But none of us can go back to the way we were, and frankly, we shouldn’t want to.
Are You Happy?
Chances are you have an idea of how your life should look and feel. It’s a concept you’ve had for a while now, and a notion that was either told or sold to you. Like many, you may have designed your life according to what others have expected of you, especially your parents. Or perhaps movies, television shows, and advertisements have sneakily informed where and how you life, the career and partner you’ve chosen, and the material possessions you have feverishly acquired. Whatever or whoever has influenced your life choices over the years, it’s worth taking the time to re-examine where you are, why, and where you’d rather be.
To do so, consider the life you’ve been building. Now, imagine you’re in the audience of a stageplay, watching the characters and scenarios of your life unfold in front of you. Is it a good show? Do all the characters make and their actions make sense? Does the dialogue, plotlines, and overall tone of the play make you feel good, or does it make you feel anxious, confused, and angry? Take a long, inquisitive look at the main character. Is she happy? Is he happy? Are you happy?
What or Who’s Making You Unhappy
Every morning, before I start the day, I sit on the edge of my bed and ask myself what (if anything) is making me unhappy. Most mornings, the answer is my thighs and soon after, I spend forty-five minutes on my Spin® bike desperately trying to burn the fat off of them. But, every so often, the answer to my internal inquiry is much more serious than a few extra pounds or inches. Instead, the issue is a relationship that needs to change, a detail in my business that has been wearing me thin, or a financial track that needs to be rerouted. Whatever it is, if it makes me unhappy, I start to dismantle or change it that day.
Often times, however, I would find myself doing the same things over-and-over again under the guise of doing them better than I had before. What I realized is that eventually, I would still end up unhappy with my relationships, business, or financial trajectory. What I needed to do was not improve circumstances, but change them altogether, to shift myself into brand new scenarios, and to feel and be something different. If I wanted genuine change, I’d have to kill my darlings. I’d have to let go of everything I thought I was and all the circumstances I allowed to define me. So, at home, at work, and within myself, I stopped planning to be better and began planning to be different.
Shift and Shift Again
Now is the perfect time for reinvention. The world has changed so significantly in the past year that none of us can recognize it or imagine what will happen next. We are all flying by the seats of our pants and those who are finding it difficult to pivot when everything around us demands change, are those who are holding on too tightly to who they used to be.
Let go or be dragged.
The vision you had for your life, the goals you set and the plans you made to achieve those goals are due for replacement. For you, it may be time to dream bigger. Maybe you shouldn’t be waiting for a higher position at the same company you’ve worked for, but a higher position at a different company altogether. Maybe you should stop forcing yourself to write that great American novel just because you think that’s what you have to do to get noticed, and instead, write that querky children’s book you think your kids would enjoy. Dress differently, change the way you style your hair, and reorganize your daily routine. The point is, instead of focusing on doing more of the same but doing it better, ditch samness, shock the world, and do something no one ever thought you would –– not even you. Kill your darlings, build your own dragons, and live a life unlike the one you had before. Then, sit on the edge of your bed in the mornings, and before your feet ever touch the ground, ask yourself what makes you unhappy. If you’ve done it right, the only answer will be your thighs.