You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call ‘failure’ is not the falling down, but the staying down.
– Mary Pickford
It’s tempting isn’t it? Starting from scratch? Beginning again, as if moving to a new country or a new city, starting a new job, starting a new relationship, or just doing something new, wipes the slate clean.
If you’ve ever started with an idea of starting fresh, you know that’s not entirely true. There is no tabula rasa, because we still carry our personal baggage with us wherever we go. Yet, there are degrees of starting fresh. Sometimes, you choose them, and sometimes they are forced upon you.
I’d a mixture of that just over a year ago when I moved to London in June 2014. I didn’t really know anyone here. A family friend very kindly came to pick me up at the airport and offered to help if I needed anything. That was a very nice offer, and I’m glad he and his wife made a trip to the airport for me, but the rest was still up to me.
This was my situation when I moved to London:
- I had to find a place to live. (I’d a temporary room booked through Airbnb)
- I had to figure out how I was going to make money. (Without resorting to jobs I hated, or without getting stuck into full-time job again.)
- I had to make new friends (as I didn’t know anyone)
- I was about to start studying for a full-time Master’s degree in October (while working full-time)
- I was almost a year into being alone after a decade long relationship and with plenty of baggage (which turned out to be way more baggage than anticipated)
So keeping that in mind, I am pretty chuffed with results of where I am today, a year and two months since moving to London:
- I’ve a place to live with good housemates
- I’m making a full-time income doing various jobs I like (as opposed to being stuck in an office full-time). This is by no means easy, and I work my ass off, but the point is, I’m moving in the right direction for the kind of career I envision having.
- I have made amazing friends here, and I’m grateful to have them in my life.
- I’ve almost finished my Master’s degree.
- The relationship baggage has been mostly dealt with, and I’ve come out on the other side where I’ve genuine goodwill for my ex, and want him to be happy, and remember what we had for the good times rather than the bad.
That’s a hell of a year!!
But I will point out again, none of it was easy. None if it just happened. I worked towards every single one of those things. Most days, it was just about getting to the next day, figuring out the next step. A lot of it worked out by trial and error. But hindsight is useful. So with that hindsight in mind, here are the five things I recommend you keep in mind if you are starting fresh:
Give yourself a break
It is tempting to beat yourself up. If you are the type who takes responsibility for your actions (good on you!) then you are also likely to take responsibility for how your life has turned out (i.e. not what you wanted). You may be thinking about things you could have done differently, or how you could have been different. You may berate yourself for mistakes made, or just bad decisions. Okay, get it out of your system – then stop! Accept that you can’t change the past. So the only thing left to do is start from where you are today, and move forward and try not to repeat the same mistakes again.
You are not alone
It always feels like you are the only one who is going through this, that no one else can understand. It’s so easy to believe that you have the hardest time, and your pain is the worst. But know that you are not alone. It doesn’t matter what you are going through – divorce, bereavement, illness, or anything else under the sun – other humans before you have also been through it. This is where you tap into the collective humanity, and feel the solidarity. You don’t need to join support groups (though they may be useful depending on the nature of your crisis), you can find that solace through several different means – such as reading memoirs of people who have lived through similar experiences. Journaling helps you keep things in perspective too. Journal about people you know (not necessarily personally) through similar things and have survived.
Believe – wholeheartedly – that you will get through the rough patches
There is a time to live in the present, and there is time to live in hope. When you are feeling down, and when things seem to be going wrong, that is definitely the time to dwell on the positive future you can create. If you believe that you will forever be miserable, and never get out of the rough patches, then it will likely be true, because you will never open your eyes wide enough to see the opportunities for happiness around you.
Have a goal (or several)
You need things to occupy you, a plan of action, and something to aim towards when you are starting fresh. You need to have somewhere to go. You don’t need to have your entire life-plan worked out (if you are starting fresh, you have probably already discovered that life-plans are not set in stone), but having milestones help. For me, the immediate goals were moving to London which I’d always wanted to do, and getting an MA which I’d waited ten years for. It gave me a purpose, something concrete to focus on, as I started working out rest of the details. If you don’t have any goals, you won’t feel a sense of purpose that gets you out of bed everyday. So find things you want to do/achieve in life. Then go do them.
Surround yourself with the right people
This is absolutely essential. The kind of company you keep, defines to a large extent the quality of your life, and your overall positivity and optimism (key ingredients for a happy life). Surround yourself with positive people. The type who push each other up, instead of keeping others down to feel better about themselves. Surround yourself with people who are making an effort with their own lives, and not merely complaining about everything that does not work out. In other words, surround yourself with the type of people in whom you see the type of person you want to be.
None of this is rocket science. As I have said, most people go through things in life where they need some kind of a new beginning. It’s just more drastic for some of us than for others. But doesn’t matter what comes your way, just remember that as long as you are alive, there is always another tomorrow. Another sunrise to look forward to. Another day to hope and dream. So keep going. Because you have to believe that the best is yet to come.