Yesterday Does Not Define You

istock_000002301808xsmallIn the 8th or 9th grade I wasn’t the best student. At times my grades weren’t all that great and my behavior in school wasn’t either. I was never the type of student that was always in trouble, but I was always struggling to find my place amongst all the other teenagers who were just as lost as I was.

Often times I would find myself trying to do things to try to fit in. Things the popular kids were doing, such as not caring about grades and caring more about being respected and feared over being respected and respectful.

Sometimes I would do things that I didn’t understand, which I am sure many of us can attest too, especially when we were teenagers and our hormones were raging and our still developing brains were still trying to come together.

This would often lead to be being unhappy with myself for one reason or another. I would be unhappy with my grades which often barely straddled C’s and more closely D’s. I would find myself unhappy with the way I dealt with certain situations, rather it was bullying other people or getting bullied. Emotionally I was all over the place. Sometimes depressed, sometimes angry, but never truly happy for long.

It was during this time that I realized that every Monday I had a chance to start over. To almost be, or at least try to be, a totally different person than I was the week before. Maybe last week I got detention, was mean to one kid or allowed another kid to make me afraid to walk down the hall. Maybe the week before I wasn’t the best student, but every Monday gave me an opportunity to try to do better, to start over.

That was always such a relief, such a refreshing feeling, to know that I did not have to be the person that week that I was the week before. That I could start over fresh. And that’s how I started to get better, as a student and as a person, by starting over one week at a time, trying to do better each week and not letting the previous week define me.

It wasn’t until later in high school that I realized I could use that same technique, that same mental reset everyday. I didn’t have to wait until Monday. If I had a bad day today, I could start fresh tomorrow. Eventually, and I think I was a senior in high school or maybe in college when I realized every hour I could start over. If I had a bad morning, that didn’t mean the rest of my day had to go bad. If I had a bad moment even, I didn’t have to dwell on it and let it define my day.

That is one of the great things about life, that we can start over everyday, every moment if we really wanted to and learn from our mistakes. We don’t have to dwell on yesterday. We don’t have to let yesterday or 2 minutes ago define us. We can learn from those mistakes and move on.

By using that technique way back in high school, my grades and behavior improved. I became an overall better person, more in touch with myself and not depending so much on others, or the mistakes of yesterday to define me. I still use that technique today, albeit, sometimes as an adult it is harder to remember and actually do, but when I do it, it is just as refreshing to know that I don’t have to stay stuck in the past.

We are not our past and yesterday does not define us. Too many people get mentally and emotionally stuck because they let their past define who they are and they don’t realize that they can break out of that rut by simply trying to do better, to do something different, to have a different attitude or to try to take on a different perspective.

Sometimes that is easier said than done, but once you learn how to “reset” your life, it’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself, each and every moment.