We all remember our firsts. The good and the bad. They are what have helped define the people we are.
Be it our first love, first hurt, first success, first failure. It’s almost an endless list. In fact, it should be just that. Endless. Because with a ‘first’ comes learning, growth, experience.
Growing up it’s obvious that we have many ‘firsts’ as we try to find our way in this world. Find out who we are? Where our place is? How we like to live? Along the way they get less and less. For some people as they get older their ‘firsts’ become practically non-existent. Except for the ones that are forced upon them.
But maybe there is something in ‘firsts’, something unseen but magical, something that means we really shouldn’t let them fall away, or avoid them altogether. When you encounter a ‘first’ it is usually accompanied by a myriad of thoughts and emotions. There might be feelings of nervousness, excitement, even fear or dread. That ‘first’ might not be what you wished or would hope for. It might be something you definitely don’t want. But it is something that can teach you. Make you that little bit wiser. Give you depth. Help you grow.
Sometimes after that ‘first’ you might be thinking that you never want to experience that again or you might be thinking that it was the best thing ever and want to repeat it. Whatever the outcome that ‘first’ will be etched in your memory. It will place a marker in your mind that will affect your future decisions. It teaches you a lesson no one else can really teach you. A lesson you will learn the most from because it is coming from yourself.
For some reason as people get older they shy away from the ‘firsts’ in life. They have maybe had enough to the point where they feel they really don’t want or need any more. But in that decision they are effectively thinking to themselves there is nothing more for them to learn, nothing more this world can teach.
I believe these are the people who are truly unhappy. The people who have really given up on life and what it has to offer. The people who are, (I was going to say content but that’s not true either), maybe just wasting their time until the great end comes. They go through their day, not really engaged, maybe even in a state of subdued misery. Are probably doing a job they hate. Spend their time watching television, or drinking, or smoking marijuana. Just passing time. Doing anything they can to distract themselves from the life their own choices have created for them. That’s a sad place to be in.
Look, I’m not writing this to put people down. I’m writing this as someone who was there. I was that person. I had given up on my life being anything other than what it was. I felt destined to working in a minimum wage job I was unhappy in. I had no real aspirations. No real hope. No love for life. I was in that cycle of basically repeating the same thing week after week, with very little exception, and wondering why I felt so sad and depressed all the time. I had stopped seeking out new challenges, new opportunities to grow, new ‘firsts’.
The thing is I got lucky. But not in the way most people would define getting lucky. My wife left me and my world fell apart. A ‘first’ I never want to repeat. This forced me from my dazed slumber as I sleep-walked through life. It forced me to look at myself in a way I hadn’t before. It forced me to get real, real fast.
I’ve written in earlier posts the steps I took to improve my life. The steps I continue to take. But those things that helped me? They were all ‘firsts’ at that time. Starting to exercise. Being more conscious of my thinking. ‘Firsts’ that have become my necessary companions on this journey to being better. ‘Firsts’ that have helped me grow.
I haven’t stopped yet. Nor will I ever again. In fact now I know the importance of such ‘firsts’ I will continue to seek them out. I’m looking for the discomfort, the unknown, and the challenges they bring, because I want what they have to offer me. I want the treasures they contain. They help me learn, to grow, to be better. They help me feel alive.
So I say to you, if you feel your life has become stuck, you’re in a rut or repetitive cycle, it all feels a bit humdrum. A bit dull. Seek out your ‘firsts’. For in those ‘firsts’ you might just find that thing, that wondrous special thing, that will give you life again. Make you feel renewed, alive, and leave you with a yearning for more. Seek them and grow. Seek them and live.