You would think that on a Friday London night that most 23 year old girls would be glamming up before heading to a club, celebrating the end of the week with cocktails or perhaps cosying up next to a boyfriend (or girlfriend) for a Netflix and takeaway food marathon. I can fully assure you that I fall into not a single one of those categories. Instead of making sure I made the last ‘happy hour’ bar orders, I found myself digging up my old journals from when I was 18/19/20. It’s flashback Friday after all right?
I’ve spent a good couple of hours reading through pages of hurt, pain, depression, happiness and good fortune. I’ve cried and laughed through each different entry (not to mind that I admired the neatness of my handwriting from all those years ago!)
People always remind you to ‘focus on the present’ and that the ‘past is the past so don’t dwell on it!’ Much easier said than done. The past has effectively shaped us into who we are, how we deal with certain situations, and although I don’t condone ‘dwelling’ on it, I think it is hugely important to remember our past memories – traumatizing, good, happy, bad, ugly – each single one of them! What has happened to us in the past is relevant – many of our past experiences have taught us lessons and experience that we now use in the present.
My reason for urging anyone to not take the past for granted is due to a small letter I found in one of my old journals. What I wrote down hastily in July 2011 reminded me that as upsetting as past experiences can be, they are also experiences that I have grieved over but eventually ended up growing in both emotional strength and emotional maturity.
Everyone has a past experience that they would rather pretend never happened or never wanted to learn from in order to accept and be able to move on. For this reason, I want to share the note that I found in my journal and hope that it may inspire more people to feel able to be open about their past and never ashamed of whatever they may have done or experienced.
July 2011 (Journal Entry)
“Has it now become the legend of impossible fairy tales that one day we will end up happily married to ‘the one’, with beautiful children running around our white picket house? I have unfortunately found myself in two unlucky and upsetting circumstances. As the extent of my actions began to dawn on me, I started to change. I couldn’t escape my own taunting mind, and sadly, it reached such low points where I simply couldn’t cope with my guilt. No matter how many times my mother would hold my shaking and sobbing mess of a body, and continue to softly tell me that ‘it would have been unfair… It wasn’t the right timing…’ But more importantly, she asked me: “wouldn’t you want to have a child when you are in a truly committed relationship? When both of you are ready?” Knowing my mother and her at times, very ‘proper’ views on family/pregnancy, I only assumed from her words that the ‘committed relationship’ could only mean two things: either a relationship leading to marriage, or marriage itself.”
I know it finishes abruptly, but it’s been a a long time in which I’ve acknowledged the past of July 2011. It feels like being naked revealing parts of your past, but once you’ve done it, you know you won’t look back on it as another mistake to be added to the past. Experience, embrace, learn and live – the present is just as important as our pasts – the only difference is that we cannot change the experiences of our past, but we can do our goddamn best to let these experiences shape our present and future for the best.