“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
There has to be endings to create new beginnings. We know this, but many people have not internalized this. Mitch Albom, author of “The Five People You Meet in Heaven,” wrote: “All endings are also beginnings. We just don’t know it at the time.”
When I started my first year in graduate school, I was away from home for the first time in my life. Yes, I had gone to Spain and Germany before but that was just for the summer. My PhD program would last 7 years. The first 2 years, I was just under 2 hours away from home. However, the last 5 were spent in a place nearly an 18-drive away from home.
It saddened me to be away from home. I had thought about quitting many times. I took solace in the fact that being so far away was a way of taking me out of my comfort zone. It was the end of my childhood comfort and the beginning of a new adventure in adulthood.
However, the years in graduate school and beyond were some of the most turbulent times in my life. Especially the death of my mother.
Some endings, such as the death of a loved one, will leave you sad, but if you can accept it as an entire host of good memories and eventually go on with what the new beginnings have in store for you, you’ll live a happier and more fulfilled life.
It took years for me to get to that point. My mother and I were close. When she died, I was still 2 years from getting my doctorate. Despite the tragedy, life had to go on.
An ending can only come when you let go of thinking about them. It’s so simple that we can easily miss the brilliance of the concept. When negative things get to be beyond your control, you’ve got to distance yourself and begin to make a space for the positive. Otherwise, it will interfere with the future you want to have and keep you from making the changes you need to make.
I’m not saying to just “suck it up” or that you shouldn’t think about the pain of an ending. Many of my family members told me to focus on finishing my doctorate while I was still grieving. It was well-meaning albeit misguided advice. By focusing on my doctorate, I did not allow myself to feel the pain.
As a result, I just pushed the pain down which was destroying me from the inside.
I recommend seeing the Pixar film “Inside Out.” It’s about a little girl Riley and the emotions she experiences after moving away from the place where she grew up. At the heart of the movie is the importance of sadness and how cathartic it is to work through it.
What Riley experiences is eerily similar to what I was feeling. Not allowing ourselves to feel the pain causes more pain instead of healing.
Embracing endings and a new beginning can be disconcerting. There is something about the uncertainty of those two events that we humans can find unnerving.
Even so, each step in life is necessary to continue growing. The end of my college life and the beginning of graduate school in another state signified the beginning of an adult lifestyle and possibly a career that I’d studied for.
Acknowledge the reality of endings. You don’t have to like all of them. I certainly didn’t like feeling the pain of losing my mother. However, we need to accept the reality of what they are. If you don’t learn to accept endings to allow for new beginnings, you could simply give up and that would mean unhappiness and a lifetime of regrets. Ask me how I know.
Give yourself permission to think about things in a new way. You may think of yourself as “set in your ways,” about certain things, but give yourself permission to change your mind. It is amazing how a fresh perspective on life and allows you to let go of old beliefs.
If you are dealing with toxic people and the damage has been done, what can you do to end that toxic relationship? If you are not in a position to or can’t get that person out of your life, what new belief can you adopt to protect your mental and emotional well-being?
Remember, if you don’t take chances, change isn’t possible.
What will you do differently today that will make you a better and happier person?
Now is the time to rethink and reset your goals and embrace a new beginning.