December 23, 2019

The New Order

3:41 AM

I love to romanticize the “clean slate/new beginnings” theme because it allows me to pretend that not all is lost. No matter how many mistakes I make, I can always have a new breakthrough moment, a burst of inspiration where I tell myself that it’s only up from here. A start of a new season, a new arc that my past failures have no effect on. I suppose it’s because it gives me a sense of freedom. I can never be trapped in any phase or stage of life or stuck in a bad headspace or anything like that, because I can simply start again! To quote some random guy because I forgot who said this: “You are under no obligation to be the same person you were five minutes ago.” I can be whatever I want to be!

But the more I “reset” and try to change myself drastically, the more I realize that it’s simply a lie. There is no hard reset, and there is no real clean slate. I will always be this Sam, and I will always be the culmination of my previous experiences, whether good or bad. The reason why it is so hard for me to make some of the changes that I desire is because I am already a certain way due to the events I have lived through. I can’t just ignore the stuff that happened previously. And going deeper than that, I have core values and a personal philosophy that dictates my personality. Those can’t be easily erased: especially not with some easy motivational one-liner.

And to be honest, I like it that way. I like that there’s no real way to truly just reset, because if I could, that would mean that most things in this life don’t have value. If I was able to just strip myself of my identity and story in the hopes of starting fresh, I don’t think my identity would really matter at all. It would be disposable and cheap, and that’s definitely not how identities should be. I would like to be defined by something concrete.

Now, I do realize that most of the time I perform a “reset”, I’m really just trying to get myself into a working mode to get some stuff done. It works, I guess, but I think it’s a little unhealthy. It perpetuates the idea that there are different parts of me, or different Sams entirely, since sometimes one doesn’t want to work but understands that he can make a future version of himself want to work. Or the existence of a Sam who thinks that everything is pointless followed very quickly (within a matter of hours) by another Sam who thinks anything is possible. Trying to cater to the different versions of myself seems so much like a jumbled Rube-Goldberg machine that is two steps away from exploding into cogs and gears, with a few stray wheels rolling away for comedic effect.

Rather, I would like to be one me who understands fully that my conflicting desires can coexist. Taking a day off and then a day to work while still being the same me, without having to trick tomorrow’s me into slaving away. No more resets or square ones, just living a full, harmonious journey.

So instead of resetting, let’s try looking at it as a New Game+. Maybe I want to handle a situation differently the next time around, or I wish to think in a better way about something. Instead of bashing on myself for messing up the first time and trying to erase it, I acknowledge that the mistake happened. It’s in my save file, so there’s no denying it. But the next time around, we have that experience, that first completed run to guide us through the second time around. It’s not about trying to do the perfect thing or having no mistakes; it’s just about continually improving. If I fail again, no problem. Just start up another file. Life does not run out of data storage space, after all.

I understand that this probably sounds like the same thing as “resetting”, but for me there was a clear obsession with the idea that one day I would no longer make mistakes, which is literally impossible. Making mistakes is a part of my identity and story, and I’m sure it’s a part of everyone’s. I don’t want to erase my failures anymore. There’s really no shame in messing up.

And for the most part, I am who I want to be. As for the parts of myself that I’m unhappy with, I can always make changes gradually with each character arc or New Game+ event. I don’t have to try to start from scratch, because I realize now that the perfect version of myself is not one who eventually “fixes” everything about himself and does everything to a T. I approach a better version of myself every time I learn from a mistake or grow from a hard experience.

So here’s to a new chapter, in the same story. A new year, new opportunities, and new horizons. But through it all, it will still be the same me.

- Sam