I have been forging four leaf clovers. Painting rainbows in my free time. Hoping that out of a seemingly endless cascade of terrible luck, I could find something good. This past year was the worst of it. The tail end of 2021 was a compilation of misfortunes strung together with an undeniable hopelessness. Every up seemed to be leveled by the lowest of lows. I was self-destructive. Denying my own happiness as I didn’t think I was deserving enough. Each blow only served to reinforce my belief that the only constant amongst all the hurt was me. Burn out was imminent. Fate was feeding it. Creeping closer and closer, my break was inevitable. There is only so much one can take before they abandon themselves entirely. 

I didn’t know the girl in the mirror any longer. She was not the woman I am. She was small, frail, broken. I am not her. I am not needy. I do not break so easily. I do not seek worth in others. I do not sacrifice my happiness for anyone. Yet, our eyes would meet and I’d be forced into the great reckoning. To finally recognize that I was not who I thought I was any longer. She and I were one, no matter the denial I so desperately held onto.

I found myself entrapped in a cycle of the same moments played out at different times. They had different characters and settings, a wide array of emotions involved, but the narrative would ultimately be the same. I would surrender myself to whatever circumstance it was. Be it school, a job, a person, I would render everything to them; never hesitating in my willingness to forget myself. I know now how it seems. From the outside in, it looks to be a case of an unfounded search for validation but that never was it. I believed I was in the right. That the only way to live was to tear myself apart to morph into whatever it needed in some other life. 

People pleasing became my tool of choice in my own destruction. I could never understand why I seemed to attract such bad luck. Why moments had been so cyclical. I had never taken the time to truly understand that I sought out certain situations and certain people in an attempt to correct what I thought I had done wrong in the past. I wanted to have that moment of redemption, even though I was not necessarily the one who needed it. I formed habits out of begging for forgiveness for when others wronged me. I spent years with people who made me prove my worth in their life every moment I was with them. Despite the years and the growth I have made, I still felt the blame for any fallouts. 

In my past lives, you could practically do anything to me and I would forgive it in a moment. I would tip-toe around others’ boundaries, careful to never edge near that line. My own, however, were always up for negotiation. They would fold with a single word and fall without any push back on my part. The world was free to do with me as it wished, and I would comply. I was made to believe that I was worth only as much as others’ received from me. I was to be a vessel for their fulfillment, never daring to put the focus back on myself. 

I had been wrong in the placement of my energy. I was in a desperate struggle for a few moments of intensity. Everyone around me seemed to attract intimacy and care with an ease I could not grasp, not even in a fantasy of my own creation. I found myself curating the roles people would play in my life, without getting to know them first. Fuelled by first impressions and gut instinct, patience was long gone. It was a search for a predetermined outcome. I had drawn the roadmaps, planned the destination, it was all set. Every person, every opportunity, it had its path mapped out. I guided the hands of fate, willing them to heir in my favour.

I have a certain affinity for what never was. The daydreams of what could have been. The scenes of a life played out in perfect harmony. It could be why I am such a strong believer in second chances, though I have come to learn they are a privilege in themselves. When our experiences are so often limited to the confines of circumstances, I cannot help but wonder what could have been, or what could still be. I could spend hours taking each person from my past, crafting the ideal outcome. I have spent days in history. Carefully studying memories, tracing over the fault lines. In most cases these are people that, frankly, I will never know again. Maybe in some other life we will meet again – but that’s something entirely of itself. 

Shifting into a new version of myself is an act I never thought would be so valuable. I have come to realize the privilege I have in knowing myself and caring for the person I am. To know the most basic components of myself is in itself a triumph. I have fallen in love with my simple, quiet existence. There is a peace in my mundanities. Tracing the contours of the face I have come to know so well. Adorning my body with the jewelry I have collected over the years. Even my daily walk to campus with my artist of the week (Florence and the Machine at the moment) is a time that I genuinely look forward to. I have come to truly appreciate who I am independent from external perceptions and successes. Altering my own perspective became the answer to correcting the course of terrible luck I had been navigating. I began to prioritize myself, and everything began to fall into place. 

I am not who I was; some curator of regrets displaying them beautifully for my own demise. A willing victim in the self-inflicted pain of inhibition. That was then. This is now. I am growing into who I am. I’ve slipped up, let the ease of letting myself go take hold but months do not dictate the years. Mistakes are bound to happen. Bad luck is inevitable. There will be moments I look back on with shame and embarrassment for how I acted, but those are the sources of much of the growth I have made. Even as I write this now in the first week of March, I know I will not be the same person by the end of the month. I probably won’t be the same by the end of the week. 

I am making peace with the rewrites; the second chances playing out within the confines of my imagination. Failures do not always warrant redemption. Closure is not a luxury granted to all. The scripts of my life will be unpolished and the scenes unfinished. Though the past is still a place that I find myself wandering through often, I know that my past self is one person I never wish to revisit. 

Here’s to breaking with the patterns of the past; with forfeiting the right to a second chance. I’ll be here. Growing, learning, changing; taking full advantage of my own second lap around my life free from the constraints of who I thought I was. Despite the anger that dominated the majority of my year, I am choosing to accept it and move forward. To evolve into myself once more, and to (undeniably slowly) master the art of my own existence.

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