As the year comes to a close once more, I’ve been reflecting on the year, and that leads to reflecting on life in general, and that means I start to think too much about what could have been. I think I’ve said it before, and I’ll always say it again, but the “what ifs” are some of the hardest things to reconcile with.
I’ve had relationship what ifs, I’ve had career what ifs, and education what ifs. I’ve wondered if things have happened for a reason, or if I’ve let them fall apart. I’ve been wondering if I took the right path through life up to this point, and I hate it. I usually try not to question things that I can’t change. But in the middle of the night, as I try to get to sleep and my insomnia roars its ugly head, these are the exact things that come up.
Sometimes I wish I could go back in time, with all the knowledge I had now, and start fresh. Not from birth, but maybe from 17 when I was stepping out into the world alone. Or maybe a little before when I got my first job. For me, my first job was great because it meant I could have things, and food was great too. Not saying that I was that impoverished growing up that I didn’t have food, but I didn’t always have food. It was like, once I got a job, I had to really start taking care of myself, paying for sports and extra curricular activities. You grow up fast when you have to do that. You become an adult too soon, and then all your money goes towards that one thing. As much as it would have been nice to defer school for a year or something after I graduated, I didn’t really have a choice. I didn’t really have a place to be, so going off to school made the most sense. But I didn’t really want to go, I only went because I was told I had to. And I think that made a big difference. I had to be there, but no one told me what I had to take so I just took courses I found interesting, which was great for my mental health (mostly) but also led to me not having a marketable degree, at least not for anything I would be interested in. But honestly, even if someone in my life had told me how important co-ops and other things were, or if I had come back from the future to tell myself, maybe that would have helped. But that brings back the problem of growing up too soon and having to take care of yourself. It’s harder to apply to a co-op and take off, knowing that you might not make as much money as working for the summer, and then you won’t be able to afford the next semester. So maybe it was a path that I could never “what if” off of. This is why I try not to think about where I’ve come from, because I think I arrived here because there was no other path. Well, maybe there was, but it wasn’t apparent at the time, nor do I want to take the time to try to find the “what if”.
I think the biggest thing that affected a lot of my life, and still to an extent does, was/is my mental health. I had to make a lot of choices around what I knew would be toxic situations. There were some things that, maybe I could have done which would have changed my path, but they would have destroyed me and I don’t think I would be around, or be the person I am today. And that’s not a fun thing to think about. The thing with mental health is, when it takes over, you need to prioritize it, even if you don’t want to. Well, that’s something I’ve learned at least, and it’s made a difference. I’m in a place right now where prioritizing it is a little harder, and I feel trapped, and that’s why I’m running down all these “what ifs”. They’re hard not to think about, especially as I’m attempting to follow my dream and feel like I’m getting nowhere.
But the New Year is coming, and that’s something. That’s something I can hold onto. I can push through the rest of the month, work as hard as I can, and then start fresh. Although, at this moment, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to get this book edit done by the end of the month, so it might drag into the next year, but we’ll see. At least I am still excited about my book and the story. I don’t hate writing. I still love it, and I think that’s a miracle sometimes.
The “what ifs” are there. I think they always will be. Even if everything works out and everything seems perfect, no doubt there will be a “what if” at the back of my mind. I think I just need to do my best of minimize how much I think of them, and to take steps to ensure that one day, the “what ifs” won’t matter.