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I can tell you that one of my favorite pastimes is to reminisce. Sitting around a table with my friends or family and talking for hours about our most cherished moments with each other. Following one good memory with another, and another, and another until the conversation fades. Or even looking through my big box of pictures from my childhood, like from a birthday party or a family vacation.

Chrissie Faenza

My present self thrives off of periodically thinking back on the positive moments of my past. But more often than not, I can never seem to ignore the moments in the past that have hurt me. 

Something I experience far too often is called “ruminating,” which is essentially repeating a thought or issue in your mind with no end. 

I tend to do this a lot with the bad moments and memories from my past. It’s the mistakes I’ve made, major arguments I’ve had, or even simply my own identity at a given time. Those very moments will play on repeat in my head, for hours at a time, nonstop.

Why can’t I seem to avoid it? It’s all behind me. It can’t be undone. Why do I let them linger in my mind rent-free?

The truth is, I don’t know if it will ever stop, nor will I ever be able to ignore it. That’s just what is in the cards. It’s not like it will change anything; I’m only moving forward either way.

It’s precisely why I’m attempting to get myself into a new mindset — that being “I cannot be defined by my past.” Any negative part of my past can be long gone and miles behind me if I get myself into this mindset. It’s a mindset to help me focus on how I want to define myself, rather than how I was defined beforehand.

I’m starting to think of myself as becoming a new person every day. My attitude, my personality and my outlook on life might all change overnight, and I would be fine with that. Anything that happened the day before, I pretend I didn’t exist. Or perhaps sometimes I become a “renewed” version of myself — simply building off who I was the day before. 

The new and renewed versions of myself are what I classify as my growth. I want to begin focusing on how I’m growing as opposed to focusing solely on my past. It’s putting a greater focus on my goals and my identity and reaching for becoming exactly who I want to be. 

How can I focus on my growth in the future, when I’m constantly being dragged down by the past? Like I said, my rumination is inevitable — it will happen regardless of how hard I try to ignore it. But there’s room for both the growth and rumination. In fact, it’s probably more beneficial for me. 

The universe is constantly throwing challenges at us, and it’s OK to not be OK. If anything, moving forward from past challenges will only make the growth stronger in the end.

Whether it’s about the positive or negative memories, I spend the majority of my time reminiscing. Ideally, all of it would be centered around my happy memories. However, I am ready to accept that this reminiscing will never be complete without the less-happy ones. And I’m OK with it, so long as I can simultaneously focus on making my future the best it can be. 

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