As second semester came to a close of my senior year in high school, the reality began to settle in more and more — I would soon be going off to a new school with a fresh start. Of the 10,000 students on campus, I would know 4 of them – two brothers, both older than me, that graduated from the same high school, a classmate I likely wouldn’t see often due to the size of the school and a soccer teammate. The soccer teammate was the only one of the four I could anticipate seeing on a regular basis. We attended different high schools, but played on the same club soccer team.
I reflected on my last four years, on the choices I had made in regards to classes and friends. On the things I valued and things I spend time on, and didn’t spend time on. I had a rather ordinary upbringing, with soccer being the center of it all.
Soon I would be heading off to Philadelphia, a 3 1/2 hour drive away, with an opportunity to “reinvent myself.”
That is how I saw it. I could choose to reinvent myself, if I so desired. What traits of mine did I not like. I was tired of being timid in social settings; now is the time to choose to act the opposite. No one will know any different because however I portray myself is how they will assume I’ve always been. No one will say, “What got into you?” as they didn’t know the “old me.”
I had drastic plans planned. I would all of a sudden be fashionable and social. I’d be comfortable holding conversations with strangers and be quick to make new friends. Yes, I’d keep all my good qualities and change all of my bad ones (as I had determined good and bad) and the New Melissa would show up as part of the incoming class of freshman.
How did that turn out, you wonder?
Laughably. What was I thinking? It was a good idea, I suppose, but I was who I was and conjuring up some artificial change was not going to happen, and didn’t happen. I still had no fashion sense (it wasn’t until my junior year and a persistent friend before I had a color other than blue, black, brown and shades of gray in my closet). I was still wildly uncomfortable in new social settings and was slow to reach out to new people. Who I was in June of that year was the same person who walked onto campus in August.
I expected too much too quick.
I wanted a total makeover, from the outside in; as if changing the outside would actually change who I was internally.
I wanted to completely re-invent myself for no other reason than I thought I’d fit in better if I did.
A decade and a half later as I reflect on that colossal failure, I realize that while a complete reinvention of Melissa is never going to happen, minor tweaks can. And over time, with enough minor tweaks, I may actually come close to that re-invented outcome I aimed at so long ago.
I didn’t need, and couldn’t handle, a complete flip, but I do need and can handle daily Do-Overs.
Opportunities to course correct.
Changes to acknowledge failure and make a change.
The ability to make mistakes and learn from them so that the next mistake I make is unique and not a repeat.
After a failed business attempt, and unwanted divorce and other personal flops, I’ve decided to call a major DO OVER in life.
Oh, I’m not even close to being done with making mistakes. There are many more to come, for sure. But I can prevent myself from making the same mistake twice.
And so I have put my stake in the ground and have determined to perfect the art of the do over.
With family or friends. In my personal life or my work life. And home or out and about. When failure comes knocking, I can choose to embrace the lesson, make the needed course corrections and declare a do-over.