This quote isn’t attributed to anyone in particular, but I chose it mainly because it strikes a chord with me and my progress during my therapy sessions. I could probably drone on and on about how life as a kid sucked, how unloved I felt etc.
But you know what?
Bitching and moaning about how crappy your start in life has been isn’t going to change anything.
Maybe some folks like to use a troubled past a reason to give up the fight, to say to the world that they’re just too damaged to be able to function properly and that the only way they can get by is to blame those who trespassed against them. You can tell a heartbreaking story until you’re blue in the face, but all the sympathy in the world isn’t going to change the fact that the past is the past. Neither you nor I could go back in time and change anything – to think otherwise is to only delude yourself.
But you know what we can do?
We can learn from the past and use it as a reason to be a better person than those that came before you. The person that caused me the most pain as a child was insensitive, cruel and selfish – they always have been and they always will be. The sad thing is that they can’t or won’t admit to their flaws as a human being – they make the same mistake repeatedly, never seeing the error of their ways. For many years I would feel aggrieved (and rightly so, some would say) that they never once apologized for the way they treated me, or admit that they got things wrong. They would always tell me that, ‘The past is the past, you can’t change it.’
For years that felt like a cop-out to me. It enraged me that they could brush off the damage they caused me by saying that they couldn’t do anything about it now. I’ve come to realize these past few months that maybe they had a point, they can’t go back and change those things any more than I can.
But we can change the present and make a better future for ourselves, it’s just a shame that this particular person seems incapable of seeing this – making the same mistakes, over and over again.
I could take the easy way out, keep making the same mistakes they did by never learning from my failures. To err is to be human, it is the only way that we learn. Mistakes don’t automatically equate to failures, a mistake can only be classed as a failure if we do not learn from it.
Writing, as in life, means that we are bound to make mistakes, the important thing to remember is that we need to learn from those mistakes. Every poor piece of writing, every incorrectly-worded sentence is a lesson from which we learn. The law of averages states that we’re going to receive criticisms about our work and rejection letters – it’s only natural. A rejection will feel like a kick in the teeth, but do the smart thing and learn from it, use the mistakes you made as a tool to do better the next time.
The only real difference between writing and real life is that the former gives you the ability to erase your mistakes, how many of us wish we could say the same about life?