The Daily Stoic: Weekly Reflection №. 1
“How many have laid waste to your life when you weren’t aware of what you were losing, how much was wasted in pointless grief, foolish joy, greedy desire, and social amusements — how little of your own was left to you. You will realize you are dying before your time!” — Seneca, On the Brevity of Life
When I was young, I used to cry over small things that did not really matter from today’s perspective. I was dramatic, simply because I wanted attention from my Mom. I cried a lot whenever meaningless relationships ended — but not really — because I thought that was how it was supposed to be. I tried to fit into so many groups who had different perspectives and beliefs from myself; Which is why I tried so hard to change my core values and even the meaning of joy in my life. I became so caught up in achieving things that others have attained at an early stage of our careers, only to realize that I have different dreams and aspirations from them. It was also fascinating how I was unattached to the social media world at one point and became so obsessed with it at another. So many things made me feel insecure. Now that I think about all of these, I could not help but cringe and feel appalled.
But then again, I wanted to emphasize what I have said at the beginning of my reflection — from today’s perspective. Premonitions, standards, and my thoughts in general when I was experiencing what I have listed above were definitely inconspicuous. Indeed, I once thought that they were everything that mattered. Albeit I could not be so sure if it was simply because I am oblivious, or because of what society made me believe?
It is enthralling, really, now that I think about it. However, I should also mention that if it were not for all the pointless and foolish stuff, I would not have learned what I know now. I would not have been able to identify the things that truly matter to me, and essentially, who I am as a person. It was sad to have wasted so much time dwelling on these, but if I had not lost what I had, would I still be the same person as I am as of this writing?
Probably yes, probably no. One might wonder, but I refuse to enter that rabbit hole — not this time. Not when I am vulnerable and still in the state of slowly accepting everything that has changed. One thing that I have learned the past year is to respect my boundaries and that is what I am doing in this case.
Wasted time, lost loved ones, and undesirable choices in life. I cannot assure anyone that I will stop taking anything for granted. I might continue to do things that will not matter in say, five years. However, what I think will make up for these would be to learn what I did not know before making that poor choice. To recall what happened when I am ready — regardless if it hurts — and see where I did wrong. To forgive, especially myself, for the things that I could not have handled in a better way. And ultimately, to learn and not to make the same mistake again. As I read somewhere years ago:
What is the meaning of life without anything to lose?
I say, buckle up, appreciate the things and people around you, and try to be a better person every single day. As Maria Ressa said, go somewhere you can learn a thing or two. In my opinion, life becomes meaningless once you refuse to learn from anyone and anything in this lifetime.