Hello SOTGC community,
I hope you’re having a great week so far. I wrote this post a couple weeks ago because it was inspired by the drive to my parent’s house from Big Bear. However I have hesitated on posting it for various reasons. Tuesday night I attended “A View From The Top” which was a Summit (A View From The Top) that Hoyle-Cohen “Wealth By Design For Women” organized to address the Ann-Marie Slaughter article “Women Still Can’t Have It All.” I met some amazing, driven, diverse women and some men all with the same goal of promoting and supporting each other. I had the pleasure of meeting a woman named Liz who is Training and Organizational Development leader. Our conversation inspired me to move forward with posting this as she believes strongly in this type of message.
As stated I was heading back from Big Bear to my parent’s house and the trip brought me to a route that I used to drive once a month in high school, and have not driven since then. As I turned off the 15 freeway and started the route my first instinct was to panic. It’s been well over ten years since I drove this way, would I remember which roads to turn off and onto? My next feeling was a thick knot that started to form in the pit of my stomach. This route does not bring back happy memories for me because driving it (back in high school) signified that I was leaving a weekend of happiness and good times with my Grandparents (who were like second parents to me growing up) and back to Ramona…where I would have to start the next week of hell.
I grew up in a backwater town that was pretty remote, not at all diverse, and pretty close-minded. I was one of about five Asians, total, in the town and I was by far the loudest and most noticeable. I think with any High School we feel like it’s not OK to be different. We spend those six years in middle school and high school trying to blend in and to look and act like everyone else. My high school was no different, but the fact that I looked different from almost the entire population just gave people an open field for very creative and very racist remarks. There were several guys in my class that spent four years making my life hell, ensuring that each day I went to school I lived in terror of what they would say. That being said, I quickly learned how to verbally fight back and from their perspective, it probably seemed that their comments barely affected me.
The point of sharing this embarrassing and painful memory with you is that this specific driving route, even ten years later when I’m a well adjusted and much happier person, still instantly triggered those feelings of anger and resentment. Isn’t it funny how specific locations, certain songs, or even driving down a certain combination of roads can spin you back into a time you’d prefer to forget?
As I drove through this path, and let myself deal with the feelings it caused and the memories I have tried my best to lock away, I realized what a pretty drive it is. There is nothing specific, in and of itself to be leery of, simply the memories that shouldn’t bother me, yet for some reason still do. Then I look at my current life, and I realize that those painful experiences helped shape the woman I am today. They made me more empathetic towards people who are less likely to stand up for themselves, and made me intolerant of bullying. It gave me thick skin, which in my industry if you’re going to run and cry anytime someone says something hurtful, you won’t last a month. It taught me the value of being able to laugh at myself, because life should be spent laughing. And what better subject matter than to laugh at your own idiosyncrasies? And though that time was painful and awkward, it helped mold me into the person I am today, and so I guess I can only be grateful for the growth it created.
For the past several weeks I have been getting out of San Diego as much as I can. One of my friends laughed at me and asked if I was running to or away from something. And perhaps it was a bit of both. As I was driving up to Ramona, and could feel the knot in my stomach lessoning as I sorted through and tried to pull the “silver lining” from those experiences, it got me thinking. Are there some paths in our past, that need to be left alone, never to walk down again? Conversely, are there others that sit in the back of our minds, either happy or painful, that need to be retraced so we may put the past behind us and properly move on?
I’m not saying I sit at home with a bunch of posted notes taped to a cork board, tossing a dart at the pile and rushing up to say, “Hooray!!!! Today we are dealing with awkward acne at age 13!!!!!” I think these paths come to us when we are able and ready to deal with them, and shouldn’t be picked at random to just hash out at will. I also doubt anyone is going to go rush out of their houses to go have some horrible experiences because “hey! Growth opportunity!!!!”
That being said, they say never to live with regrets, not to live IN the past, to be as present as you can be and learn from your experiences. However, to properly move forward with our lives, are there paths, some of them dark and windy roads, that we need to face head on and travel again to really be able to close that chapter, and start writing new ones?