How often do we spend copious amounts of time on completing a certain task, bonding in a friendship, loving in a relationship, or living in a certain place, and when it ends on a note that we would have preferred it not to, our immediate reaction and thought is, “What a mistake, that was a waste of time.”
All the time spent, with millions of good moments peppered with a few bad ones, is erased in a single outcome—an outcome that either we had pre-empted and didn’t want or an outcome that we hadn’t even thought of. And with this outcome, a perceived ending takes place.
How often do we look back at something being a waste of time because we believe it was a mistake? We take a single moment and write off a 10-year friendship or 15-year relationship or 20-year job because it ended in a way that caused us pain. We look back and only see the peppered bad moments and never the sprinkles of joys that surrounded them—the sprinkles that kept us going all that time for all those years.
When we only focus on the perceived ending or the outcome, we forget about all the learnings along the way. We learn so much about ourselves—the darkest sides of ourselves, the lightest sides of ourselves—and the same of others during these times, and somehow it doesn’t seem to matter because it turned out in a way we didn’t want.
And maybe this is where we go wrong. We forget that we cannot control the future, and even if we follow a certain criterion of steps, it brings us closer to the wanted outcome but cannot guarantee it. There are always external factors that cannot be taken into account because they are unknown; then there are the internal factors (the way we allow life experiences to change our thinking, how we process our emotions, or how we show our feelings).
We fool ourselves into thinking that the way we are now is the same way we will be in 10 years. But the only constant is change, and in as much as our essence doesn’t change, the superficial parts of us do change—the parts that we are meant to outgrow, learn from, or adapt. And we sum all this up to a waste of time and it all being a mistake because we didn’t anticipate a particular outcome.
What we lose sight of is that the steps done during the time, the living we do, or the choices we make during the journey is where all the important stuff happens. If I didn’t have toxic friendships or perceived waste of time relationships, I would have missed out on all the learnings. I wouldn’t have learned how patient I can be, how cold my being goes when facing a difficult decision, or how much love exists within me. I wouldn’t have learned that no matter how much we may want to believe it, some people’s behaviour will never change; some people will surprise you for the better, and others will teach you the biggest lessons you’ll learn.
We also lose sight of the fact that when something ends, it’s an opportunity for the beginning of something else; and if we took the time to reflect on our learnings, we’d be able to use it to make the next thing, regardless of what it is—a job, a relationship, a friendship, a hobby, only that much more memorable.
The decision always lies in our view, our point of reference, and the way we react, not just at that moment but all the moments after.