Accepting Your Unlived Lives

When you’re a kid, the whole world around you seems infinite. You think you can touch it if you want to and it seems so simple to do so. Maybe you wanted to be a vet, or maybe you wanted to be president, or maybe you were like I was and wanted to be both. It was a childhood fantasy — a dream that always had the smallest of probabilities to happen. But nothing is impossible, right? Only improbable. Yet, no one really wants to take the risk of failure, so we move on to something more comfortable. 

Everyone has these unlived lives, alternate universes where you took the chance and maybe it changed the very course of your life. Whether it’s doing that project you’ve always wanted to work on but never found the chance to, or going to that school you rejected, or even letting that person you’ve been crushing on for years get away. Everything we do in this life and the next creates a butterfly effect: one moment, one decision, one action, and suddenly you’re a different person with different dreams and maybe even a simpler life.

Journaling Photo by My Life Journal from Unsplash Often I find myself wondering about my unlived lives. I don’t want to call them regrets because that implies action, and I think many of my unlived lives stem from inaction more than anything else. But I realized that I’m halfway done with my college career and there was still something holding me back from being the person I wanted to be. I realized it was all the pressure and anxiety from the burden of these unlived lives — the burden of the possibilities that I let slip past me.

Dreams become futile when the reality of the world starts kicking in, and I don’t think anyone really lets go of that urgency to do something or be someone. The only thing that really changes is the anxiety of incompletion, feeling like you’ve disappointed the part of you that wants to be more. That disappointment only grows as you get older, until you find yourself wondering why exactly you didn’t just take the risk. Why couldn’t you be the person who could do it?

Woman sits in bed with her phone, a book and a mug. Photo by Laura Chouette from Unsplash There’s so much about the world that’s temporary — the places you go, the people you love, the pain you feel. If you stay wallowing in all your unlived lives, all the opportunities you missed, then the present will just become a fog of memories instead of possibilities. I don’t want to be the girl that sits and waits, wondering when her life will begin. And I definitely don’t want to be the girl that stays up all night wondering how different my life would’ve been if I just took the chance. I want to forgive myself for these unlived lives and create one of my own.