I used to think about this a lot more, but I haven’t had the smoothest life in the world. I had a particularly difficult childhood (you can ask me if you like!). I’ve had to make some tough decisions in life. There were periods in time when I wallowed in it all and was depressed beyond belief.
The funny thing about my depression and being immersed in my own misery is that it’s sometimes addictive. Back then, I used to see it as a badge of honor, like “oh look how hard my life is.” It becomes part of your identity. It perversely traps you in the same spot, because it makes you want to be self-consistent with that view of yourself. And obviously that’s not going to improve anything. (Note: I don’t imply that everyone has the same experience when depressed. Please seek help if you need it! I know lots of people who’ve had luck with antidepressants and therapy.)
At some points, I just broke down completely and had to reconstruct my whole world view and my self-identity. I’ve had multiple turning points in my life when I just snapped out of the situation, and realized I had to do something. It’s easy to think about the trauma of the past. It’s easy to luxuriate in the pain you’re feeling. But the better thing to do is to look forward and decide what you want.
Now, I just believe that whatever happened doesn’t have to define you. You can decide the future you want. You can decide who you want to be. Take agency! I don’t believe anymore that past trauma has to define your current being or decisions. I think it helps to shape your perspective, and can be inspiration, but it doesn’t have to be more than that if it’s not helpful. Keep your eyes forward and decide for yourself what you want, not what the past made you.
September 15, 2021