Our Past Is Only a Story

What's Really in Charge of Your Future


Cade Campbell, Writer

Imagine going somewhere public, whether it be a park, a mall, or the fountain in Hillside Village where the kids run rampant and the parents are chasing them down. Where the couples sit and talk with bags beneath them, and friends joking around, throwing cookie crumbs at one another. Look at that one guy, with the mustache, looking at his wife with a longing gaze, but looking a little out of place and formal towards the children with them. Like they’re not his own. Watch him loosen the front of his shirt like he’s insecure about a little belly he’s gotten over the past few years because work has been stressful and hard, and it’s been difficult trying to balance everything out. 


Some people believe the past is our future. That it defines who we were, who we are, and who we will always be. That the rest of our lives depend upon how we used to act; that what’s in our hearts now will always be in our hearts forever. 


See, the past is only a story. It can be the most tragic story filled with a broken heart shattered by parents, relationships, and ruined dreams. It can also be a heartwarming story of love, fame, and fortune. 


Everyone has a past. Everyone has a story. Everyone’s story affects them differently. Sometimes an abusive mother will cause her boy to be single forever, sometimes it’ll cause him to seek out a safe and comforting love for his whole life. We have control over who we are. The past is just a story that we use as justification for who we are, but in reality, we choose who we are. 


Some people lose hope in people because they’ve had so many people disappoint them with both big and small issues. They don’t trust anyone, they prefer to do things themselves, they’re closed off, they’re sad, they’re angry at the world for being so rude to them. They question why it’s them that’s suffering. 


We don’t choose what has happened in the past, we can’t change something bad, we can’t withdraw something we said and trade it for a better card, but we can choose how we act today in response to that. 


That person, the one who has been let down so many times in the past, doesn’t have to shut out their heart from the rest of the world. 


Life is a handful of processes that must be completed in order to gain happiness and this is one that helps to rebuild the broken.


The beginning of such a process is stripping everything down to its core. Why are we the way we are? What influences us? What causes us to feel happy, sad, angry, or all three at once? Do our friends make us feel welcome or do they judge every move? Do we consider our job a chore? Do we consider a relationship we have with someone a chore, rather than something we enjoy? Is our family disappointed in us or are they proud of what we’ve done?


Depending on the answers to questions such as these, questions that consider every aspect of our life, we are able to pinpoint areas within that require, or need, change. We choose to ignore the hard things in life, such as quitting a well paying job or dropping a group of friends, risking loneliness sinking in before we find a new one. But by choosing that, we choose to lose our happiness. We choose stress, anxiety, depression, and laziness. 


But those are only choices and there are plenty more. Everything in life is a choice, and we can also choose to rebuild ourselves, stripping ourselves down from the now known toxicities of our lives, into something happier and healthier. 


For those who have an alcoholic parent or neglectful parent, they can choose to do the opposite in the future. For those that want attention but don’t give it, they can focus more on others rather than themselves.


Because not all things bad in someone’s life is from the outside. It can be from the inside as well. 


People who say one thing but do another can work on fixing themselves. People insecure about their body, whether they think they’re too fat or too skinny, can change the way they view their beauty. They don’t need to change their bodies, but they do need to change their attitude about themselves and stop focusing on what other people might think or what they might judge them on. 


Just because someone in highschool said someone needs to lose weight or heard someone say you were too short, too tall, flat, loud, too quiet, or too weird, doesn’t mean that needs to affect them. That’s just a painful line from the movie of our lives, played with heart-wrenching violins and a close up of tears streaming down our faces. But after that pain is dealt with, do we choose to let those words continue to hurt us? Do we dwell on them? Or do we go on with our day, our year, the rest of our lives, being who we are and who we want to be? Not what others want us to be?


To be frank, I prefer the latter option. So let’s all do that. Let’s make ourselves happier. Let’s make ourselves healthier by choosing the paths we take, by choosing how our stories define us, and by choosing who we are.