I constantly struggle with living in the past. I am constantly overwhelmed by the sheer volume of stupid stuff that I have done. I have the unfortunate habit of thinking about my past mistakes. I dwell, fret, worry, etc etc… Even though I know I can’t change anything about what has happened.
I can’t change it. It’s done. Boom. That’s it. Nothing I can do about it.
So why does my past bother me so much? Why can’t I just accept what has happened and move on?
First off to blame is probably my personality. I am EXTREMELY Type A. So, not only does that mean that I’m super annoying all the time about everything, but I am critical about every detail of myself, I am competitive (sidenote: I am a terrible sore loser), and I get upset/angry very easily. So when it comes to looking at my past – I am very critical about myself. In my eyes I see what could have happened and I didn’t measure up. I failed. I failed at being a good human being and I made a mistake and I need to be punished for that mistake. Said punishment is always beating myself up about not being good enough (I am pro at this, been doing it since 5th grade -first time I ever got a C on a test). It almost seems like I can never measure up to my own standards of living. I set myself up to fail constantly. Looking at my past is like seeing failures over and over again, when I could have easily done better. But hindsight is always 20/20.
Secondly, I come from a very competitive family. No, not in sports (though my Dad and sister can play anything and everything and be good at it) but in grades. My family takes immense pride in being smart. I wasn’t popular, or good at sports, or anything really in school. But I was smart. I could hold that over everyone’s head. In school I believed that I was smarter than everyone else (except Stuart, PJ, and Stephen because they were freaking geniuses). I would study my butt off to get straight A’s because in my eyes that was the only thing I was good at. I could memorize any fact, figure, name, speech, anything. I could diagram a sentence in 8 seconds flat. You want all the state and capitals? Done. All the Presidents? Done. All the Vice Presidents? Done. The periodical table? Done. Even in college I was competitive with my grades and GPA. My friends were in different majors than me and I’d still get frustrated if their GPA was higher. Now that I’m not school anymore I feel like I’m not better at anything (except whining, I’m the best at whining, ask any of my friends). If I don’t have anything to be competitive about, than what’s the point? I look at my past and compare it to my friends’ pasts and see that they were better at living than me. They didn’t make as many huge glaringly obvious mistakes as I did. In my mind they win. I suck.
Third to blame is scientists. WHY HAVE YOU NOT INVENTED TIME MACHINES YET SO I CAN GO BACK AND FIX EVERYTHING AND HAVE A PERFECT AND LOVELY LIFE?
Fourth are those people. You know who I’m talking about. They LOVE to bring up the past. They LOVE to relive and rehash their great moments in life and remind me of how I screwed up. They can be my family, or one of my friends (terrible friend) or an enemy (do I really have enemies or just frenemies). They love to remind me about that one time, ya know, remember, that one time when I did that really stupid thing and it had terrible consequences. It makes me cringe just thinking about it. It’s one thing to remember the crap you did on your own, but when other people bring it up it makes it 1,000,000 times worse. (sidenote: YouTuber danisnotonfire has a great video on the “cringe affect” and when you have a “cringe attack”)
Fifth is myself. I should be first because most of the mistakes I have made are 100% my fault. I could have done better. I could have made different choices. I could have thought more. I could have listened to my friends and family and teachers and peers. I could have caused less pain. I could have fought. I could have faced my fears. But I didn’t. I made mistakes. I made a lot of them. And it’s easy to blame other people for misguiding you, or causing you to make those mistakes. It’s also easy to blame your circumstances, that they made you make those mistakes. You can blame anyone and anything. But it comes down to the truth. And the truth is I screwed up. I made mistakes.
Why can’t I get over my past?
Because I won’t let myself make the same mistakes again.