I realized something this morning.

After I woke up twenty minutes before my alarm went off, downed a cup of instant coffee, and went running around the lake right outside my neighborhood, I got home and turned the shower faucet to cold. The week was long and stressful and many things took place. They soon will bring unavoidable consequences. Along with brooding over my current situation, a flood of memories from the past arose and overwhelmed me.

There’s no reason why I should have been reliving the past and dwelling on my mistakes. I’m in the shower. Absentmindedly washing my hair, reaching for the conditioner, and I realize, if I could go back and change what happened, I wouldn’t be here right now.

I know we’ve all heard the phrase in some form or another, “If I change the past, everything changes.” It’s the butterfly effect and Ashton Kutcher taught us that going back in an attempt to change the past only ruins the present even more. It’s tempting to imagine how it would be if we got the chance to go back. There are moments that if I changed my behavior, so many circumstances would be different now. If I never left California, would I even be here writing this now?

I should have told my family how I felt. I shouldn’t have said the things I said. Why didn’t I try to keep them together? Why did I give up so easily and leave?

It’s scary to think that we have so much power at any given moment to change our lives completely. One action has the ability to bring on so many life changes. Going back may seem like it’s the perfect way to fix the past and prevent all the pain you felt, but it’s not.

There’s a reason we can’t go back. John Green wrote, “That’s the good thing about pain. It demands to be felt.” Pain is necessary, it prevents us from making the same mistake again, it teaches us, it molds us, we are better from it. Burning yourself with the curling iron is a pain in the neck, literally, but you know to be more careful in the future.

I firmly believe everything happens for a reason. There was a time when all my family felt were tension and distrust, and sometimes I imagine myself returning to that period and acting differently. But, even if I went back trying to fix it, I couldn’t save them on my own.

If I went back and changed what happened, I wouldn’t be here today. Perhaps I would still be somewhere closer to the place I used to call home. Maybe I’d see my family more often. But I wouldn’t have met the people I met these past two years. I wouldn’t of been forced to trust the people I do now and develop long, lasting relationships. And despite how long it took to like where I am and what I’m doing in my life now, I’m happy with the way things are.

The temptation to imagine your life without the pain of the past should be avoided. It only makes you feel like you’re to blame. This pipedream of returning to the past is only a mechanism to deal with bad decisions in the past. In between wiping our eyes during the Fault in Our Stars, we all heard Shailene Woodley say “pain demands to be felt.” Whatever happens will happen. Mistakes happen. Your life is like a book and we have many, many chapters within it.

If something ends, it’s only the start of a new chapter for you.