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.
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.
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 person–this 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.