Back in the days, when I was a little child at the age of eight years I had forgotten to do an important homework. I guess I simply missed to write it down and therefore had completely forgotten to accomplish it. Now, what should have happened normally in such a situation was that the pupil informed his teacher that he had forgotten to do his homework. Well, I decided to do otherwise. Rather than acknowledging my mistake, I decided to lie about it and pretended that I had done my homework. As you can guess, it wasn’t a very good decision and even though I hoped that my teacher wouldn’t notice my falsehood, he finally did after controlling the homework of our class. In the end, my decision brought in a lot of detention for me, after getting a seemingly infinite rude scolding from my teacher in front of the class.
When I went back home from school I spent hours in my room, wishing that I could somehow turn back the time, that there were any chances for me to undo my mistake or that I would simply awake from a very bad dream. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t find the solution I had anticipated, which taught me a lesson in life, in very early ages. I did not only learn that all my decisions would draw consequences I would have to live with, but also the realization that I simply couldn’t change the past, by any means.
De facto, what happened in the past is bygone, inalterable and not changeable for every one of us.
Something that differentiates most of us from each other is the way we cope with the past. Some are living their entire lives focused on the past, regretting what has happened and wishing that it would have had another outcome for their life. But there are also people who draw a line with the past, acknowledge the fact that a chapter of their life is coming to an end and are looking forward to the next chapter in life and are excited about the upcoming challenges.
All the different stages in our lives that we are experiencing here on this planet can be seen as unique chapters that follow each other uninterrupted. The time span of your formal education is such a chapter that began once you entered your school for the first time and ended once you found a job or started doing something completely different. In many cases, the chapters of different areas of our lives are overlapping for some period of time, such as when you had your first girlfriend/boyfriend (relationship sector) while being at school (formal education sector). But once, the relationship ended so did the chapter and with it came the opportunity for a completely new chapter to begin, whereas the chapter “being at school” was still a part of your present life.
Back in the day you graduated, you might have looked back at the time in school with joy and pleasure/fury and rage, but you acknowledged the fact that the chapter school has come to an end for you. You didn’t insist on extending the chapter any further than necessary but drew a line instead and started focusing on the upcoming challenges of college, university or in your professional life. You closed a chapter in your life, knowing that your whole life would be changing with the next chapter to arrive.
Closing a door in life, finishing a chapter of life, finalizing a stage in life; no matter how you call it, it is the acknowledgement that a period of your life lies behind you in the past.
I guess that, back in the days we graduated, it felt relatively easy for most of us to let the chapter “school” come to an end, as we started to focus the upcoming challenges that were made for us to be conquered in the future. It all was part of a process that felt completely natural and nearly all of our friends were part of it and made the same experiences as we did. Yet, the older we grow, the more important become the different chapters for us, as most of them are based on each other and we start to get used to these chapters over the years. So basically, we slowly begin to unlearn how to finish stages in life, but start to be attached to these stages.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Being attached to the chapters of life you are currently experiencing is absolutely great, wonderful and recommendable. After all, living your life with joy and excitement is one key to happiness. But the more dependent you make yourself on a stage in your life, the more difficult it will become for you to let this stage come to an end, whenever the day arises where it has to end. You might be prepared for some chapters to come to an end in the near future, but there also will be many joyful chapters that come to a sudden, unexpected end, for instance, the dismissal from your job or the transfer into another headquarters in a foreign country, that requires you to relocate. But also the ending of a relationship can stand for the end of a chapter you were attached to with your heart.
Whenever such a period of your life you were attached to comes to an end, it becomes very difficult to draw a line. You might try to keep the stage artificially alive, by not accepting the fact that it has ended. You might spend days and weeks ruminating and thinking about all the possible reasons why it had to come to such a sudden end, without realizing that you will not find answers to all your questions. Some might even go so far to restrict themselves from taking the next steps into a new chapter, by trying to “reopening” the closed chapter by any means, or by trying to fully understand the reasons why something so important for them has dissolved into dust. In the end, all these efforts won’t help you in reopening a bygone stage of your life, but it makes you stand still, motionless and paralyzed on the line that resembles your lifespan, without any further development. Furthermore, you will start to redirect your focus from the present situation into the past, which finally prohibits you from conquering a new chapter in your life.
The bygone is bygone and will never return back into your life. Things will go by and the best thing you can do is to truly let them go; it’s the best for you, your life but also for everyone who is a part of it.
Make yourself clear, that you cannot begin a new chapter in life until you’ve closed the old one, drew a line and came to terms with the past and with the things that happened.
Something that might help you in coming to terms with the past is to burn mementos and keepsakes that remember you of the old times and resemble every feeling you associate with that period of your life, even though it might be hard to let go of these things.
How do you draw a line so that you can come to terms with the past?