40 Things I’ve Learned Over 40 Years: You Can’t Run From Yourself
When I was in high school I used to sit in study hall and daydream about what my life would be like in the future. The idea of escaping into a world that was more exciting than the one I was living was a favorite pastime of mine. Especially since I wasn’t that happy with the reality that was in front of me. I often dreamed about moving to a big metro area, landing a job at a big corporation, being very successful, and having friends and relationships that were fun and fulfilling. I knew what kind of potential was within me, but I felt like I was never going to reach the level I wanted to obtain where I was. Whether it was due to the resources around me or the perception I felt that people had of me, I just felt like I needed to escape from the hopelessness of my environment. Over the course of time, these daydreams along with my unquenchable desire to prove myself fueled the fire within me. Although the motivation I had was a good thing, it didn’t necessarily mean that accomplishing all of these things would resolve all of my problems.
You Get What You Give
Although it took some time, I slowly but surely started accomplishing some of things I daydreamed about as a teenager/young adult. I finished college, I landed a big time corporate job, and I moved away from the dreadful memories of living back home. Although living back home wasn’t all bad, it wasn’t all that great either. There is a good reason why I haven’t gone back to my hometown very much since 2006. I left there feeling like I didn’t have very many friends. I struggled to connect with people within and outside of my family. I felt very alone. I felt like a complete outsider. I wanted to be in a place where I would be accepted for who I really am, not the joke I felt people viewed me as. I wanted to go to a place where I could finally stand out and prove myself.
In my experience, I feel like you get what you ask for in life. Whatever work you put into accomplishing a goal will usually pay off in some way. In hindsight, I feel like I got exactly what I asked for. The only problem is I took all of the baggage from my “previous life” with me. I would be the first to say that moving away from home was absolutely the right thing for me to do. I wouldn’t change anything. However, being in a new area with all of these great things around me didn’t necessarily change the fact that I still had a lot of work to do on myself.
I’m not sure of when the exact moment was that I learned that working on me was more important than being away from such a toxic environment. Perhaps it was some of the bullying I endured during the first year of the big corporate job? Maybe it was due to the sad ending of my first real relationship? It could have been the moment I began to notice that the fate of my friendships in my new area were similar to friendships I had in the past? My best guess is that it came after my divorce. Once the dust settled and I was in the act of moving on from the experience, I noticed that I was carrying around more baggage than ever before. This was especially apparent once I met my wife. I was extremely jaded, very closed off, and not at all the person I dreamed of being all those years ago. The years of emotional abuse from all corners of my life had started to really take a toll on me. By the middle of this decade I knew I could no longer keep trying to outrun all of the negativity. I knew I needed to cleanse myself of some of the toxic baggage or I would never be able to move forward.
Taking A Cleansing Leap Of Faith
The idea of going to therapist was always a very taboo topic for me. My parents taught me from a very early age that therapists were cuckoo. You just didn’t seek the counsel of a professional in order to resolve your problems. That is something you dealt with on your own….or atleast that’s what I felt like I was being taught. However, I found myself having a very hard time getting past some mental blocks. I knew I had to open up my mind a little bit. I took a leap of faith, did some research, and found a therapist that I felt would be relatable to me.
From the first time I met my therapist Sarah, I knew I had done the right thing. This was a person who was the same age as me and felt like they could easily have been a very good friend of mine. My sessions with her are exactly what I needed. If anything, there was a point where I was filled with some regret. Although I was happy to have opened up my eyes to all of this, I wished I had done it years ago. The fact that it was planted into my brain that this was such a bad thing was yet another reason I felt like I did make the right choice by distancing myself from home. The opportunity to not only talk about my first marriage, but also talk about the rest of my life was beyond cleansing. The fact that many of the feelings I expressed were validated in these sessions was exactly what I needed. It was long overdue. As a result, over the course of the next two years I had finally started the healing process.
Learning To Deal With Being You
I won’t lie, I still tend to dwell on some things from the past. I am only human after all. There are some things that therapy can’t completely fix. However, I am living proof that it can make a world of difference. I no longer look back and blame myself for many of the things that happened to me. I spent a lot of my life being blamed for things that weren’t necessarily my fault. I certainly wasn’t perfect, but I definitely wasn’t at fault near as much as some people claimed I was. I’ve come to learn that sometimes the blame game and finger pointing is a reflection of the person who is actively doing it, not you personally.
What I’ve really learned is that moving to another state might be a good way to generate change and a fresh start in life, but it will not fix all of your problems. At the end of the day, you still have to deal with being you. Starting over won’t erase the memories. Your baggage won’t get lifted off of your shoulders the moment you move into that first apartment. You may not come to that realization on the first day. You may not even get to that point during your first year of the new adventure, but it will eventually come back around to you somehow.
This summer marks twelve years since I moved away from home. It’s been quite a journey that’s been filled with ups, downs, twists, joys, disappointments, and everything else in between. It’s a journey I wouldn’t trade for anything else. Although I believe you can learn all of the lessons I’ve learned without leaving home, I have to wonder if I would have evolved enough to have actually learned what I know today. I could probably spend all day hypothesizing about it. There is always a chance that I would have wanted to distance myself by now even if I did learn this while living in my hometown. From my perspective, the best medicine for what ails you is to cleanse yourself of then negativity in your life and be honest about everything. It all starts with you. A fresh start in a different state can simply be viewed as a bonus.
It’s important to identify when your environment is too toxic to continue being apart of it. Distancing yourself from toxic people you’re close to is a very serious decision to make. In my experience, most people are unable to do that. For whatever reason, I was able to commit to that decision and have never looked back, Even if you’re unable to break free from a toxic situation, you can still identify the problem and fix yourself. I think I would have gotten a lot of flack for it had I stayed in touch with my family, but I think I could have done it. At some point you just gotta take control of your own life and live the way you want to live. Although I am much happier today, I know in hindsight that I could have taken some of the steps I’ve taken in recent years back in college. Due to the stigma that surrounds therapy, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. In that regard, I sure am glad that the times have changed as well as myself. It may have taken me a long time to learn this, but sometimes you just gotta look in the mirror, ask yourself all of the tough questions, and face reality. Take it from me, if you do this, you’ll definitely come out on the other side of it much happier.