“Things do not change; we change.” – Henry David Thoreau
Have you ever gone to an amusement park as an adult that you went to as a child? Did you look around at the rides that seemed huge and daunting when you were small, but now you can not even fit in the seat of the rollercoaster?
Maybe you’ve played a video game with a young cousin or relative that was new to them, but old to you. Was it as challenging and exciting as it was decades ago?
Have you watched a movie you’ve seen a thousand times and noticed something new?
None of these things actually changed over the years. The rides, the game, and the movie were all exactly the same. Nobody snuck in and made some secret changes to see if you’d notice.
What did change, though, is you.
You’ve had new life experiences, you’ve grown (hopefully). You’ve learned many lessons (hopefully). And you’ve overcome your share of challenges that made the smaller ones feel less intimidating.
So now, when you go back and have that same exact experience, it feels completely different. Except, it’s not.
It is quite literally the same it has always been. But, the lens you see it through has evolved and matured.
This can be applied to many areas of life. Perhaps you look back on a proposal you wrote when you were in school and chuckle at the grammar you used. Maybe you watch a highlight reel from when you were a collegiate athlete, but now you are professional. You see all of the mistakes you made during the days you thought you were the best.
Maybe you look back on a relationship or job you spent too much time in and wonder why you didn’t see the reality sooner.
One thing remains constant with all of this: You should never feel bad about the decisions you made with old information.
The rides WERE proportionally larger when you were smaller. That video game WAS more difficult. Maybe you weren’t fully paying attention to that movie before.
Today, though, you can see even more clearly. You understand how you’ve grown and developed and you’re self aware enough to choose the next steps you take. This is one of the greatest realizations we can have over the course of our lives: To finally see that we don’t know what we don’t know.
To stop trying to be the best, or the smartest, or to keep having to prove ourselves; and to simply enjoy the journey. To know that we will look back on ourselves in one, five, or ten years in the same way that we look back on our past selves now.
The key is not to feel embarrassed or shameful about how you approached life before you knew what you know now. The key is to be proud of how far you’ve come, and be even more excited about how much further you’re about to go.
Things will always change, that is a guarantee. The part you get to control, though, is in what direction the change happens, and nothing is more exciting than creating a new reality that doesn’t exist yet.