Do you regret some of your experiences to date? - Don’t!
Maybe you made a fool of yourself at some point...said the wrong thing or you were too honest only to find out no one thinks like you. Maybe you loved and got hurt or took the “right” decision to discover it was everything else but the right one. Or maybe you hurt someone yourself...then picked the wrong career... Whatever it was don’t regret it.
Steve Jobs said “You can only connect the dots looking back”. When I first heard this in one of his speeches I wasn't impressed and I was frankly a little annoyed. "No kidding”! So obvious and so not meaningful. I didn't think I had the right to say something so cliché without a clear cut proof and I also didn't think Steve Jobs had the right to speak as if he was the “ultimate source of knowledge” just because he was instrumental in creating Apple. My lack of understanding was apparent...but not to me. Little I knew that it will all make sense very soon.
Allow me to tell you the story that made me change my mind and see things finally ... and differently… To tell you the story that proved to me it all happens for a reason...
I got home last night at 1.00am after work. This has been my schedule for the past month. I even started going for runs at that time as I couldn’t fit it elsewhere. I lose the meaning of doing what I do in some of these moments. It doesn’t make me feel good to live that way.
I went home this particular evening and got straight to bed. I couldn’t fall asleep. I was either way too tired or I passed beyond that and was feeling strangely energetic. Who knows. But it didn't matter because that's when it happened...
Without any conscious attempt to think … A flashback of memories started to go fast and clear in my head. I was afraid to move in fear I might spoil the moment. Such physical and uncontrollable experience. Experience I never had before. Desperately trying to remember everything that was going through my mind I saw my past experiences and all lessons learnt from them linking together like a chain of unseparable pearls.
Suddenly everything started making more than just perfect sense. The entire set of messy choices and happenings in my life - they were all exactly what they had to be!
Just to give you an idea - my life has never been particularly ordered somehow. At least not to me.
I was a kid who moved countries and schools without much of a pattern to that. This somewhat differs to what other people with similar experience have gone through. Most international birds I know actually had some sort of logic behind their relocations. Some were from diplomatic families moving from country to country studying in international school(s). Others were sent to a boarding school(s). Third wanted to experience cultures and learn languages. I on the other hand, had no such reasons.
My parents moved as they were looking for better jobs and a bit more income to support us. I had no particular ambitions to experience the world. All I knew at the beginning was the neighbourhood I grew up in. I studied to get good grades, looked forward to vacations and the biggest and most exciting stuff in my life were happening within those boundaries.
Then we moved to Portugal. I got beaten at school. Learnt Portuguese with no intention of “expanding my horizons” but because it was a necessity. Stayed at school without being able to talk to anyone. My greatest joy was to go to the only computer cafe in the small town we lived in and write emails to my friends back home.
Yet that evening in my bed I could see and feel all the lessons and meanings I had taken:
Distance matters and it is difficult to maintain relationships. The importance of being comfortable with yourself when you are the odd one. The need for adaptation. The experience of raw cultural differences at a village with no internationals made me realize how vital it is to DISrespect as well as to respect others. Nowadays we only emphasise on ‘respect’ filtering out reality. I also learnt to speak my mind and be my own supporter. To not differentiate between ages and hierarchies as I could see a child and a grown up often struggling in the same ways. As an outsider I became an evaluator as well as a hybrid between a child and a struggling grown up.
Then we moved back. Betrayals, the illusion of the concept ‘stability’ and the need to be (or at least portray being) comfortable with yourself – reinforced. The skill to be resilient and the habit of being ok alone – mastered. The need to seek approval from others – faded away.
And we moved again – Hungary. The need to be free – adopted. By that time I had developed courage and didn’t pay social opinion VAT. Being determined and finding it difficult to let go if I wanted something became some of my characteristics. I was quietly fighting hard for everything I wanted often as if my life depended on it.
Then … moved back home… again. Began university in the most random discipline. Fell in love. My skills of being “ready” for anything vanished. Learnt what it means to belong to someone and something. Felt what it is like to have no control. Discovered sides of me I wasn’t familiar with. I lost myself to find it later.
And ... moved countries again… this time for him and myself. Went and studied something completely different. Started anew - my actual comfort zone. Relationship end. Emotional breakdown while still doing everything I was supposed to. Life doesn't stop so you can catch a breath really. Recognised some of my weakest points so I can improve them with time. Succeeding yet feeling like not learning much. But the movie in front of my eyes was making it all meaningful, all tieing up together. I finally learnt how to let go as opposed to fighting - a different skill I needed.
And the most important thing - That night around 1:00am… I got it! The time it takes to learn didn't matter at all. A month, a year or seven - the lesson is still there and timed perfectly. You can only connect the dots when you look back. Those snapshots were breathtakingly clear. I woudn't have been where I am now without the past. Even if only one piece was missing - would it have been the same?
Have a little faith and trust what your heart tells you. It will take you where you need to go.