Living Better

Beginning at the fork in the road.

I wish I could have a do-over at life. I would have gotten my college degree in something I was passionate about and not let fear guide me to a “safe” option. I would have pursued help for my mental health earlier so that I didn’t suffer as long and have it take its toll on my friendships, marriage, and motherhood. I would have pushed harder and sooner to get the best help for my son’s many life-long struggles.

I hear people all the time say, “I have no regrets. My experiences made me who I am today.” I get that, but I also don’t. Life could have been better. Relationships could have remained intact. I’m not saying the struggles shouldn’t have existed, but rather the period of time experiencing them could have been greatly reduced.

Take, for example, getting mental health help. I didn’t seek help until I was grown, married, and a new mother. I struggled in silence when I grew up due to the stigma surrounding depression and other types of mental illness. So, as a grown woman, when I reached a point of breakdown, I finally sought help. Unfortunately, I sought help from a general practitioner who gave me meds and didn’t suggest anything else. It just wasn’t exactly helping as it should. This was the beginning of a decade-long search for the right help and right diagnosis while sometimes succumbing to breakdowns and fighting suicidal tendencies. So, yes, I regret that I lost so many years to a personal mental health crisis. That’s a decade of marriage and a decade of motherhood that suffered, as well.

So, as a single 40-something-year-old, I’m learning to live for my son and for myself. Yes, my son is technically an adult…but still battling quite a few hardships. I believe he’ll overcome some and adapt or cope with others; he’s still on that road. My goal for him is to not have to struggle another decade into adulthood as I did.

Starting a new life at middle-age is frustrating, but I know it can be exciting as well. I’m just not at the exciting part yet. I’m in the messy-and-not-knowing-what-I’m-doing part right now. I’m finding my way, and learning more about myself in the process.

I know I’m not alone in having regrets. Former Forbes contributor, Eric Jackson, once wrote about the most common regrets people have. Of his top 25, these are a few others that struck a chord with me:

  • Working so much at the expense of family and friendships.
  • Standing up for myself more.
  • Worrying about what others thought about me so much.
  • Not having enough confidence in myself.

With knowing our regrets, we need to make a choice to live now and the remainder of our life without any. We need to be aware of who we are and what we want in life. I’m not saying you will know all the details, but it’s good to have a general idea. Learn from the past and shape the future.

Jon Acuff and Me, 2017

Jack Canfield has an aphorism: Self-motivated people win at life. You may recognize his name as the originator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series. However, “for over 40 years, he has been teaching…people from all walks of life how to create the life they desire.” Adjacently, Jon Acuff says, “a goal is the fastest path between where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow.” Acuff believes in goals and finishing those goals. I recommend his book Finish, and his podcast All it Takes is a Goal. No, I don’t make anything off heralding his amazingness; it’s just that he’s that good. I’d love to harness his energy and passion…and humor. Instead, I’m creating my own by soaking in his wisdom and insight, and that of others, so I may better myself and my life. Thus, my blog is branching out. Yes, I will still continue to be an advocate for mental health awareness; but in addition, I want to encourage us all to live a better life.

Let’s live with purpose, fulfillment, and continual progress.

Copyright © 2021 Alicia Rust. All rights reserved.

Writer. Lover of dark chocolate, coffee, tea, & being me. I’m an anxiety-ridden, bipolar 2 survivor...

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