“I thought I’d be married by now.” “I thought I’d have children at this age.” “I thought I’d be in a different place in life.” We have all heard these lines before or lines similar to these from our friends, family and loved ones. As we get older, the frequency of which we hear these lines increases. Unfortunately these lines are often spoken with the tone of regret and disappointment. These lines will most likely continue to be used in their typical tones until the person shifts their perspective on life or let’s go of their expectation (How to get a Grip on Your Life).
There are people who resist change. Fear of change is possibly the most common reason people resist. I have also observed people resist change because they don’t want to let go of the life they know or the life they think they want. Or the life people expect them to have. Or the person people expect them to be. (Great Expectations) Even when people are unhappy they resist. Then there are people who believe in their expectations so strongly that they try to force life to happen in the way they imagined it. Life may turn out the way they want it, if they stay the people they were when they set the expectation.
I once tried to live a life free of regret. The things I observed and heard from adults when I was a kid prompted me to set that particular goal. I listened deeply to the advice of my elders on the moments of their lives that they regretted like missing prom or not studying abroad. I also took note of the moments of their lives that they enjoyed like getting involved in school and sports. Growing up I either did or didn’t do things based on the advice of my elders and based on my observation of my community. My plan felt and sounded like a solid plan for living a life free of regret. Even now when I wrote out my former life goal it still sounds like a solid plan.
In the process of living I racked up a few regrets. Looking back I see that I missed a key element to this goal and it’s something that we learn with age. Any scientist knows that for any experiment done, you need a constant or a control. Either I would need to live a life of routine and play life safe (which would result in me not really living). Or I would need to stay the person I was and never change which is hard to do, because experience brings growth and change. No matter how hard you try you can’t control life. If life could be controlled we as people, as families, as communities, as nations and as a world would have gotten it right by now. Right?
Life constantly evolves. Everything in the universe is alive with the creation and erosion of land, the weather cycle and the birth and death of plants and animals. Outer space continues to change and expand too. Our complex societies also evolve and change as a result of travel and social media, which creates a space for cultures and ideas to mold and change others, cultures and ideas. And as we change our expectations and understanding also change. With any change something dies or has to be released. Old thoughts need to be released to accept new thoughts. Old habits need to be released to except new habits. We shed layers of ourselves to step into a wiser more experienced self. And sometimes friends (Out with the Mold) to allow new people into our life that will help us reach our full potential.
Life has taught me that everything happens for a reason. And with that in mind, there are experiences that I had that I wish I didn’t experience or at least experience in the way that I experienced. We can’t control people and we can’t control life. Yet we still try to control people and control life. The only thing we can control is how we choose to live our life and how we choose to respond to life. In order to have the life that you truly want, letting go is the first step to help you get there. If we don’t let go first, we limit the possibilities of the life that we can create for ourselves. Things will most likely go according to plan, but what I have learned more and more each day is how my former moments and experiences in life have brought me to my current place and have helped me navigate life. And some moments and experiences have helped me in my career. Some of my best experiences were experiences I didn’t expect. Since I have let go of expectations in my month of writing, I have been amazed with where the month has taken me in my growth and writing.