Since middle school, adults have always told us to "live in the moment." They were all "these are the best years of your life!!!" and made sure we felt guilty for wasting even a millisecond of it. There's nothing inherently wrong with "living in the moment." The problem lies in prolonging the moment to such an extent that it becomes living in the past. Living in the past is a really attractive option, especially when we tend to romanticize the past and fear the future. The past is comfortable because we know everything about it and the future is terrifying because we have no clue what it holds. And while being comfortable is safer and entering the unknown is scary, the latter is definitely more exciting and rewarding. I have a story to prove it.
By the time I was fifteen years old, I had been through the ringer when it came to the holy mecca of dreams for the young actors of Hollywood: Disney Channel. I had tested for countless pilots, filmed one that never saw the light of day, and had my hopes sky high just to be shot down over and over. I've always been a firm believer in never giving up on your dreams. However, I've also always been a firm believer in whatever happens is meant to be. So when it seemed like the dreams I'd been chasing for years on end weren't working out, I thought it might be a sign that it wasn't meant to be. It was then that I sat down with my mother and told her that I decided I was done with Disney.
I was so caught up in the past disappointments and (what I viewed as) failures that I decided to give up. Looking back, I wouldn't blame myself for making that decision. It seemed pretty fair after all I'd been through. It didn't seem like giving up to me so much as moving on. Coincidentally, days after I had that conversation with my mom, I got an offer to test for the show that eventually became I Didn't Do It. I said no.
Obviously a lot more went into the behind the scenes decision for me to go through with the show and eventually I said yes and, ultimately, that show changed my life. I don't regret a single decision that went into the process of me ending up on it and I wouldn't ever go back and change anything. It does frighten me, however, to think about the fact that if I let myself dwell on the past and all the disappointment it brought me, my life would be totally and completely different.
On the flip side, I think it's important to remember the past. Similar to dwelling on the past, if we didn't remember the things we went through and the battles we fought (whether we won or lost), we would never move forward. We would continue to make the mistakes we've already made and should have learned from. We would keep people in our lives that shouldn't be there. We would be moving forward, but it would be on a self-destructive path that went in an endless Groundhog Day loop where we never learn from our pasts.
So what I've presented to you is this weird sort of catch twenty-two advice. Don't forget the past, but don't spend so much time not forgetting it that you fail to see what's ahead. If I had dwelt on my past, I probably wouldn't be here today writing this post for (approximately) seven of you to read. But if I had chosen to forget the past, I would have faced a lot more disappointment and made a lot more mistakes. This isn't to say I no longer make mistakes because I definitely do. This blog might be one of them. Or not. I guess we'll have to keep going to find out.
P.S. I've found it tough to keep up with my Monday post schedule (because I'm lazy and a big procrastinator not because I'm busy with grown-up things or anything of actual importance) so I made a few changes to the blog and will be posting on less of a specific schedule. I've never been much for planning anyway. Let's see where this takes us.
some things I would have missed out on had I been too caught up in the past