Why I Won’t Be Starting Over

Guest Post by Annie Reierson

November 10, 2016

There are a lot of different terms we use when experience significant changes in our lives: Starting over, Moving on, A new chapter, Begin again, Go back to the drawing board.

However, there is something about these terms that seems amiss. They suggest that all the experiences and interactions that I had before were insignificant. To me, “starting over” says that I just scrapped everything, as if somehow my past experiences didn’t bring me to the place where I stand today. But, that’s not what it really feels like to experience change.

This past year has been chock-full of changes for me. I sold the first house that my son and I ever called home, I ended a long-term relationship, I started a new job unlike any other position I’ve ever held in the past, and I purchased a new home.

When I sold my first home, I wept. I relived the moment I opened the door, glowing with pride and warmth and joy for having secured a beautiful home base for my two-person family. I thought of all the sweat and tears that come with owning a home, and how they are always worth it.   I remembered all the milestones that my son climbed through during our time in that house, as he transformed from a toddler into a boy. As I wept, I felt privileged to hold these memories close and take them with me.

Annie and son, Zander, at Minneapolis Institute of Art.
Annie and son, Zander, at Minneapolis Institute of Art.

When I left the man I loved, I seethed and sorrowed. We yelled and spat and cried and embraced. We made so many mistakes, as all couples do. But we could never fix it the way it was supposed to; there was always a piece missing or an extra part stuck in the wrong spot. The more I seethed, the more wisdom grew, and the clearer it became that we were fundamentally broken. As the rage subsided into a quiet sorrow, I understood what our love meant for each other, more than I ever did before (they always say hindsight is 20/20). It was so hard to say goodbye, but I took that love with me, along with all the lessons learned.

When I started my new job, I trembled. I was so excited to try something new and take the past decade of experience and apply it towards a position that truly meant something to me. I was also intimidated and terrified and felt completely out of my element. I had been used to working in a certain environment, with a certain methodology, and had been given the reins of a new job with complete autonomy. It was only by working through that fear that I have learned that I am capable of much more than I was ever told or than I ever thought.

When I bought my new home, I wept again. My son, who started kindergarten the same week we moved into the house, asked me if we could stay in this place forever until he is a grown up. It’s only been a couple months, but I already know that with this home will come so many more life-changing moments.

Annie Jane Reierson
Annie Jane Reierson

Through all of these changes I have learned that the tears, anger, sadness, fear, excitement, and joy are the moments where I have found the truest meaning in my life. The hardest lessons lead to the greatest wisdom.

I think it is important to acknowledge the hard times, alongside the blessings, both in the past and those that are yet to come. I recognize that all the effort and hard work I put into each venture was not in vain, but has made me into this personthis unique human who is solely and individually unlike any other human on this planet.   The times that I fail in life are the times that I grow and learn and gain insight. The times that I express sorrow are the times that I have the greatest panorama of introspection. When my heart aches, I am humbled and I am human. These are moments that I want to carry with me.

We each have a story; we are born, we experience life, and then we leave a legacy behind. If I keep “starting over” and erasing my experiences each time my plans do not pan out in the way that I had anticipated, then my legacy would only reflect a small fraction of what my life was actually all about. But, if I embrace the moments that are human and meaningful, no matter how ugly or painful or small they might be, and let them become a part of me and a part of my journey as a whole, then I will leave a legacy that is rich and plentiful and boundless.

Your turn: What do you think about the idea of “starting over?” 

Annie Reierson lives with her son in St. Paul. She works for Minnesota Housing and also is an active painter, writer, musician, soap-maker, and seeker of various endeavors in the artistic community.



Author: Angela Noel

On a quest to become a better human, I write about parenting, leadership, and personal development. I tell my stories so you can find your own.

25 thoughts on “Why I Won’t Be Starting Over”

  1. “My son, who started kindergarten the same week we moved into the house, asked me if we could stay in this place forever until he is a grown up.” My favorite sentence. So cute. What was your reply?

    1. I’ll never forget when he said that to me! This is the fifth home we’ve had in his short life, so the idea of a “forever home” is a big deal to both of us. I believe I told him “we will stay here as long as you want, even until you’re a grown up!” And I hope we do. 🙂

      1. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when your son starts a family, he moves in to the house he wanted to live in forever and that way his children’s grandmother would be right there? There was a time in the U.S. that several generations of a family lived in the same house.

  2. Wow! Such great wisdom and truth in these words! Good luck on whatever comes next!

    1. Life’s journey is never without its challenges, but I continue to be fortunate – thanks for reading!

  3. This was beautiful! And, I agree with her sentiments 100%. The idea that thinking or saying “starting over” makes what was before not significant is an interesting one! Nice post!

  4. This is such a lovely post!
    Congratulations on all your changes. It sounds more like you are building up your life, rather than starting again.

    1. Thank you! Yes, my life continues to grow in depth and fruitfulness, with the good and the bad – thanks for reading!

  5. I’d never really thought of the phrase, “starting over” from that perspective before, but I completely agree – erasing the negative experiences from our stories takes away from the wholeness of life’s journey. Bravo to you for having such a positive outlook in the midst of so much upheaval, and I wish you well as you continue to create moments in your new home.

  6. Starting over shouldn’t mean forgetting the past.. it should indeed be about embracing the negatives and using them to creae a better tomorrow!

    1. I suppose if it were easier to be enlightened, we wouldn’t even know the difference! Thank you for sharing your thoughts 🙂

  7. I’ve always said I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, but I do believe in New Life resolutions. You can decide, at any time, to live a different sort of life than the one you’ve currently got. This doesn’t mean “starting over” because Life is not a retail chain: you can re-brand without having some big going out of business sale and stripping your walls bare. It can be as small as deciding that you are the sort of person who keeps a pen by the phone (people still have landlines, right?) or takes more photographs, or as big as deciding that your family and living situation need to change. Either way, you can keep your favorite shoes, friends, and lessons learned because that stuff is yours and the most important thing you’ll almost always be taking into that New Life is… you!

    1. I like your perspective on the significance of all acts, big and small. Even the flap of a butterfly’s wing can eventually build up to the force of a hurricane!

  8. It’s true, we use those terms so often (starting over, a fresh start) but you’re right. Everything that has happened to us, brought us to where we are today, so nothing is lost or wasted (in that sense). It may feel like wasted time because we are now happier, but it was a learning experience. I enjoyed reading this post. Well thought out.

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