Peel the scars from off my back, I don’t need them any more

Peel the scars from off my back,
I don’t need them any more,
You can throw them out
Or keep them in your mason jars,
I’ve come home

– Lyrics from the beautiful Welcome Home (Radical Face)

If you told me a month ago I would now be happier and feeling more at home than I have in my entire life, I probably would have sent you back to the TARDIS to try another point in spacetime after clearly getting the wrong coordinates. I didn’t imagine that in such a short time, what would commonly be seen as one of the worst things that could happen in a lifetime was the catalyst that led me toward the path that genuinely feels more right than anything. I’ve always been a huge advocate for the power of choice, and when everything that’s supposedly certain is pulled out from under your feet leaving you hanging in mid-air, you really do have one: panicking at the loss of control, or shifting your focus toward something you can, and trusting that by allowing yourself to be open to a whole new beginning instead of frantically clinging onto a door already closed, the universe will deliver. And here I sit, a few months later, more secure, happy, and genuinely at peace than I think I ever have been. But I’m not going to lie and say that dealing with people’s reaction to the supposedly abnormal feelings of wellbeing hasn’t been a challenge.

There aren’t a lot of things in life that bother me, but one of them definitely comes in the form of people passing judgment before hearing a whole story, or put more simply: gossip. There have been all sorts of interesting studies about our propensity for talking about people who aren’t in the room, and the psychology of it is rather fascinating. On the plus side, it serves as something that bonds social group members together and can result in feelings of interconnectedness and belonging. But on the reverse, it can destroy friendships and reputations, and can lead one to feelings of alienation, humiliation and belittlement over invented or assumed stories passed through the rumour mill with little to no truth at all. So why is it that the human race is so quick to judge others without first bothering to hear the truth?

As I’m sure many of us experience at some point or another, I’m no stranger to being talked about. I think us bloggers especially may even inadvertently bring it upon ourselves: by putting our hearts, hopes, fears and dreams out there for the whole world to see, naturally there are going to be some old blasts from the past, jealous haters or other Internet trolls that are going to latch onto something you say and use it to fuel spiteful comments or make judgment about you. Something I’ve been tossing about my head lately is something about which I’m not sure how to feel: you know I’m hugely passionate about the idea of giving your all to everyone and everything, but the trouble with always pouring your soul into every open door is the fact that every subsequent occupant will have a piece of you that may no longer reflect the person you are today. This leads to incredible frustration when judgments are passed on those pieces of the past – everyone’s life path is strewn with wrong turns and mistakes here and there, but we become who we are today by learning from them. They’re not one-stop destinations that accurately describe present-day you, but when people’s only impression of you is from a period in which you were learning those lessons, the consequential judgment and skepticism can be hard to take.

Yes, I believe the past plays a huge role in shaping who we are now, but I don’t think we have to wear our history like a map on our face.  Enormous feelings of discontent can evaporate when you realise you have the choice to play along with people’s tendencies to define you by your past, or see yourself as the only true author of your own future. You may have been someone else once, but that doesn’t mean you’re the same person today. If nobody ever learned or grew or changed their ways, what a stale, hopeless world we would find ourselves in. The past definitely shapes who we become, but it doesn’t need to accompany us every day telling us who we “are”. The danger comes when we start to give credit to other people’s decisions that we are the sum of our past mistakes. If we keep telling ourselves the same stories, we start to believe them.  And in doing so, we construct our own prison cells caging us in from our true potential.

It’s tough not to listen when it feels like the rest of the world’s definition of you is stuck on who you were, overlooking the possibility you could have done any sort of growth since. For the last few weeks, I have been infinitely happier, more content and more secure than I can ever remember being. Lame sap that I am, I told someone recently that in hindsight, it seems that until this point, I’d been living with only ten percent of my heart and simply assuming that that was what life was. Feelings of intense wellbeing and the loss of fear and anxiety that have been such fierce companions for so long are now, for the first time, daily occurences, but people are having a hard time believing it, and tend to meet my mentality with suspicion. Lately, I’m filled with such passion, joy, and a sense of certainty – it feels like I’ve been living in a world of black and white and I’ve finally stepped into technicolour. But why is it so hard to believe that I’m fully capable of being happy? 

The reason I’ve been able to move forward so quickly is, I think, through acceptance. It was one of the goals I wanted to implement this year and it’s something that’s helped me see things with incredible clarity. I look back on the last few years and see so clearly that I was settling; on the surface, going through the motions of what one would assume to be a relatively typical life, yet on the inside, wishing every day for things to be that little bit different. Wishing I didn’t have to worry, or second-guess. Wishing I didn’t have to wonder about what was being said behind my back. Wishing for contentment, security, and genuine happiness. Wishing for compatibility. Wishing for the feeling of dread in the pit of my stomach to go away, and wishing that the stuff of fairytales existed in the real world. Wishing I didn’t have to wish so much. Looking back, I know without any shadow of a doubt that that ongoing feeling of discontent was a sign from the universe, and I’ve learned that if something feels wrong, it probably is, and no matter how much you overlook it, go along with a pretense or invest in endeavours to fix it, if you are on the wrong path, something spectacularly catastrophic will happen to open your eyes, and force you onto the right one. It’s happened before, and as a result, it made it that much easier to recognise this time around. I’m genuinely grateful for things taking the direction they did, because they led me to what currently feels like the best chapter of my entire life. And when you know in your heart that things genuinely happen for a reason, that things weren’t right, and that the only thing you can control is the here and now… it makes getting on with the future that much easier. Another goal of mine this year was not to waste any time. So why not choose action? Why not grab hold of opportunities life throws your way and have faith that they could be amazing? I can understand holding onto the past if you’ve lost something that was. But when it was something ultimately uncertain and at times, destructive, why not allow yourself close the door behind you and step into a brighter future just because it may not be the social norm?

There will always be people who’ll judge. There will always be societal pressure to do things a certain way, and there will always be questions, rumours or misunderstandings. There will always be people who will define you by your past actions, but at the end of the day, only you know your true heart, and the person you are today. The past will always be there, but it cannot be changed. The only thing any of us can ultimately control is our life from this point on. So why not leave history where it belongs, make the most of our time, and focus on a better future? If you’re making the right choices for you, gossip and judgment can’t really hold that much weight at all.

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47 comments

  1. My dad and I fight a lot over the choices I’ve made. I know he wants me to be happy but he thinks that I would be happiest if I had chosen the life HE wanted for me. I didn’t go that way and although sometimes my life is hard I’m satisfied in the fact that I made these choices for myself. My dad still doesn’t understand but I hope someday that he will.

    1. My dad is exactly the same way. While he wants me to be happy, he doesn’t understand how I can take into consideration all the same factors he does and STILL come to a different decision then him.

  2. Your posts always leave me wanting to be a better person. I was just talking to my husband about how I’m not a person who judges frequently, but I do make snap judgments immediately upon meeting people. I decide very quickly if I like a person or not, and I’ve been proven wrong about my decision many times. I hate that I gossip, but I think there’s a lot to what you say about it being a bonding technique. When you move frequently and have to make friends quickly, it’s so easy to get caught up in the high school sleepover fun of gossiping, but I’ve seen it be hurtful so many times and hate that I participate.

    1. There are two constructs at work with gossip; one helpful and one harmful. On the helpful side it is the gathering of information about others that might be harmful to us and on the harmful side people intentionally try to drive others down in an attempt to make them feel better about their own situation. The first is a legitimate issue if the truth is told, though people can change, as Em mentioned. The second is useless and self defeating since true happiness can never come from the harm of others; true happiness comes from helping others. Instead of gossiping about someone, the better road to take is to talk to that person yourself and see the true situation and if you can provide them any insight or help.

  3. You are so right Em! Often it is from the deepest hardships, trials or loss that the deepest most satisfying growth evolves from. You are on “The Path” right now, I pray you can stay on it. You are on the razor’s edge and it is hard to stay there for all the reasons you mentioned; people try to pull you down to where they are, there are further future devastating events to happen trying to deviate you from the path, and unpredictable events bad AND good that will shape you in unforeseen ways. You are in the zone at the top of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid moving from Self-Actualization into Transcendence. I look forward to see where your future will take you and hope that your insight continues to help others.

  4. Another great post Em, I agree with some of the other commenters that reading your blog always leaves me feeling inspired. You have a remarkable attitude and even though we don’t know each other, your words have made me see life differently and recognize things I never would have thought about before, like the power of choice. I think people say they don’t have a choice because they don’t want to make the hard ones sometimes. I applaud you for always making the right one even when it goes against the norm. So happy to see your doing so well!

  5. I am genuinely happy for you that you’re feeling the way that you’re feeling, Em. Everybody should be happy for you that you’re able to move on so quickly, not wishing that you have to suffer longer than necessary.

    You make some really good points in your post and you have no idea how much I needed to hear those.

  6. Emily! I think you are absolutely amazing. 🙂 I totally understand what you are saying, and I think it’s wonderful that you are doing so well and are so happy. I am so inspired by the way you’ve totally accepted everything, and used it not as a source or depression but rather as a source of empowerment. You are truly beautiful and strong and I am so happy for you! ❤

  7. You are so right. Your attitude is right on! People will always talk… But the people who matter will be on your side and the people who aren’t on your side – well of course, the don’t matter at all. 🙂

  8. I am so happy to hear about these new things happening in your life em! you sound so happy and content and way to go for standing up for your right to be okay whenever you want to be. things do happen for a reason and just because it might not be the same timing as somebody else doesn’t mean you have to make yourself miserable in the mean time! the things happening in your life right now are all taking place because they were meant to, and you sound like you’ve never been more sure of anything. What happened to you was absolutely crazy and you deserve so much better and I’m so glad to see the universe equaling out and providing you with a dose of well deserved awesome. this is the perfect time for you to move forward!

  9. Well said Em. I sort of posted on something similar, in so far as the acceptance bit.

    It’s good to hear that you’re doing so well. I think it’s the bad times that get us to learn more and more about ourselves! This can only be a good thing 🙂

  10. I am so happy to hear that things are improving for you. I think the hardest part is when you are in limbo between making the decision you know you are going ot make, and then actually going through with it. But once you go through with it, you feel more in control and that makes a HUGE difference.

    I think one benefit of growing older is that I care less about what others think or say about me. In my younger years I cared SO MUCH if somoene dind’t like me. These days i am like – oh well, their loss! Which sounds snobby, but I think when you have so many wonderful people in your life (as is the case for you), it’s easy to let the trolls go!

    1. It’s interesting right, when we’re younger our whole worlds seem to revolve around what other people think, yet fastforward and we realise that if somebody doesn’t like us, then it’s not a big deal and we’re actually better off without them! If only we could learn that lesson sooner…

  11. It brings me such genuine joy to read these words. Seeing how you’ve moved forward with such resilience & most of all joy, is truly a testament to the how you’ve evolved as a person. .

    You have so many people who are genuinely rooting for you, wishing you the best and I hope that can compensate for the negativity brought on by certain individuals in your life.

    As always, beautifully written! *hugs*

  12. I find it inspiring how you have forged ahead and found a world of such happiness and acceptance. So many people would let this defeat them, but you have just let this make you so much stronger. You are simply amazing, Emily. 🙂

  13. I believe you are what we would call “an old soul”. I wish I could feel the peace you are describing for just an instant, it sounds so wonderful. Good for you, you are completely, 100% right in what you are saying!

  14. I think it’s always a fine line, knowing what to share and what to hold back because you want to connect and be real and not talk about only the little stupid stuff that doesn’t matter, but you have to hold onto your stories for the people you’re meant to share them with. Every time I read your newest entry, I’m so so happy for you. I don’t think you’re sappy or cheesy at all. I think you know how you feel and how you felt and the difference between and you’re figuring it out. Stumbling through life until you’ve got a handle on it.

  15. I agree. Haters are going to hate. Judgmental people will always be around no matter what. It is hard to deal with but we can’t let it affect us. I mean, not that much.

    I’m glad you’re able to handle this in a positive way. 🙂

  16. Wow… chunks of this post really shook me.. Especially the part about being on the right path and, if you are not, something will happen to shake you… Good writing Em. Please, we need to update one another real soon.

    1. Yes, I must get your mailing address and send you my new one, we need a catch up soon and I can think of no better way than a lovely, old-fashioned letter in the post 🙂

  17. Listening to a favorite artist of mine, the song “Your Life Is Now” by John Mellencamp seemed very fitting for your topic Em…

    See the moon roll across the stars
    See the seasons turn like a heart
    Your father’s days are lost to you
    This is your time here to do what you will do
    [Chorus:]
    Your life is now your life is now your life is now
    In this undiscovered moment
    Lift your head up above the crowd
    We could shake this world
    If you would only show us how
    Your life is now

    Would you teach your children to tell the truth
    Would you take the high road if you could choose
    Do you believe you’re a victim of a great compromise
    ‘Cause I believe you could change your mind and change our lives
    [Chorus]
    Would you teach your children to tell the truth
    This is your time here to do what you will do
    [Chorus 2x]

  18. Honestly, I am so glad you are doing so well. What happened to you could have absolutely destroyed someone else, and I am glad you have the attitude and mindset you do which allowed you to come out of it a stronger person. No one should be telling you how to feel after what happened, everyone has their own way of dealing with things. And it sounds like things are going well for you. 🙂

    1. Thanks, I am SO thankful things happened the way they did so they could pave the way to some really amazing things I would’ve missed had I stayed on the path I was on. 🙂

  19. P.S. I love how you have a friend called Dave Tennant. He is not *the* David Tennant, is he?
    P.S. I just found out the brother of someone I know (not well, though, just met her once in person I think & am Facebook friends with her) directed the next Dr. Who episode!

    1. That’s crazy!! As in the next one when the season returns at the end of August?? 🙂 And no it’s a friend of mine, who just so happens to have excellent taste in pseudonyms 🙂

  20. I’m relatively new to your blog (sort of a non-blogging lurker), but I wanted to say that this post really touched me. I feel like your past experiences with wishing for something mirrors how my life is right now. It’s nice to know you can move forward from wishing to acceptance. Lovely post!

    1. Thanks so much! Would love to chat more about wishing etc. – it’s an interesting topic and I’d love to share stories. Thanks for visiting and for the kind words 🙂

  21. I’m so happy that you’re happy! What you’ve gone through isn’t an easy thing, but I’m so glad you’re coming out on the other end stronger and happier than before.

  22. this is a truly amazing post. All of them are actually. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with the world, they are really inspiring. I really connect with your posts, and a lot of what you have said in your journey through life so far. Like this post, for one because I’ve been realizing that have been allowing the past and people in it to dictate who i am, even though ive grown i still allow the people in my life to hurt me, to treat me like im weak.Like im not good enough. And I know better then that, its to learn not to let the people closest to us control us.

    I like when you say
    The past definitely shapes who we become, but it doesn’t need to accompany us every day telling us who we “are”.

    I think im going to put this on a post it and read it every morning!

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