definers

Everything That Happened In The Past Made You Who You Are Now

So no, my past is not ever dead, but a "rememory" of the past traumas that are colliding with my present circumstances. All of that made me who I am, and the definition of my life belongs to myself, the definer, and not the outsiders who misunderstand me oh so much that have tried to be the definers of my story, and that is what your story should be, as the definer, too.

Ryan Fan
Ryan Fan
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"The past is never dead. It's not even past," - William Faulkner

I've thought about these words from Faulkner in reference to the temporal space between events in his book. The more I think on the quote, the more I realize these words are not only relevant but true. Everything that happened in our past is not dead, and not even in the past. It made us who we are now.

Don't ever tell yourself that something that happened or something you did didn't matter. No matter how insignificant others might tell you something is, despite how much your loved ones plead you to move on, perhaps the dwelling and ruminating on some form of shame and guilt you feel is what you need. Everything matters at the end of the day, and it's up to you to decide for yourself, not anyone else. You or your God are the definers of your journey and life, and although the quote that "definitions belong to the definers, not the defined," that Toni Morrison once said in Beloved refers to slaves having their definitions defined by white slaveowners, the novel is triumphant. By the end, the roles are reversed: the former slaves became the definers, instead of the defined, of their own story.

And yet we live in contradictions and paradoxes, that although there's a part of us that dwells and feels, there's also a part of us that moves on. Toni Morrison also once said, in Song of Solomon, that if "you wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down." As human beings, we are characters with narrative arcs. Perhaps there's a part of us that needs to hold onto the stuff that weighs us down and make our peace with the past before we can fly and give it up. There is no surrender and peace unless a prior struggle and conflict preceded it, as any person resisting a relationship in faith has experienced. We must be broken down first before we know what it means to fly.

That is why everything that's happened made us who we are today. I certainly wouldn't be where I'm at now not only for my successes, but my failures, for the friends I've made for life who will stand by me unconditionally, and also the conditional friends in which my relationships fell apart. Every time something goes horribly wrong and the outcome goes against what is considered "good" and what I planned, I learn a lot more about my shortcomings and failures. I learn more adhering to my Christian faith and Calvinist theology, that I myself am worthless and unjustified, and can't claim to be better than anyone, because the ways I have wronged people and the world are much worse than the sin I know of anyone else. I am absolutely nothing alone, but by the grace of a higher power in my God, I can affect change and affect the lives of people, to do justice and serve the world in capacities I didn't think possible. I am not supposed to have learned what it means to surrender control, but I have, and I've never felt so much joy.

All of my failures, all of the pain I caused, whether it was my fault or not, whether it was intentional or a complete accident and misunderstanding, contributed to the person I am today, and I can say confidently that I didn't think I would be here. I'm not supposed to be here. I'm not supposed to have forged as strong of relationships as I have, to have fostered and succumbed to as much vulnerability as I have. I'm not supposed to have worked on a suicide hotline or have been successful doing it. I'm not supposed to have found God, but God defied what I was "supposed" to do. I'm not supposed to be a teacher next year, teaching high school English, and being a person who will become a much better teacher than who I was before everything I went through this year.

I think I'm the luckiest person in the world, that I am everything I am because the past is not over, and it's not even the past. I haven't really changed as a person despite the trauma and various pain that I've been overwhelmed with this year. No, I've grown, and I wouldn't have it any other way, and no one else could have gone through the same and developed to who I am.

I believe that there is a plan and journey for everyone. Some people will have destinations they find more favorable. Some may not, but that's fine, and that's okay. Yes, we will feel the anxieties and fears with how much we have to lose, with how much we have at stake. But this year and throughout college, I have experienced the joy that comes with having absolutely nothing to lose, to give up to God because as much as I want to believe, God just showed me I had no other choice.

So no, my past is not ever dead, but a "rememory" of the past traumas that are colliding with my present circumstances. All of that made me who I am, and the definition of my life belongs to myself, the definer, and not the outsiders who misunderstand me oh so much that have tried to be the definers of my story, and that is what your story should be, as the definer, too.

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When You Make A Girl An Aunt, You Change Her World In All The Best Ways

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest girl in the world.

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My brother and his wife recently blessed our family with the sweetest bundle of joy on planet earth. OK, I may be a little bias but I believe it to be completely true. I have never been baby crazy, but this sweet-cheeked angel is the only exception. I am at an age where I do not want children yet, but being able to love on my nephew like he is my own is so satisfying.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a very protective person.

From making sure the car seat is strapped in properly before every trip, to watching baby boy breathe while he sleeps, you'll never meet someone, besides mommy and daddy of course, who is more concerned with the safety of that little person than me.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her a miniature best friend.

There is something about an aunt that is so fun. An aunt is a person you go to when you think you're in trouble or when you want something mom and dad said you couldn't have. An aunt is someone who takes you to get ice cream and play in the park to cool down after having a temper tantrum. I can't wait to be the one he runs to.

When you make a girl an aunt, she gets to skip on the difficulty of disciplining.

Being an aunt means you get to be fun. Not to say I wouldn't correct my nephew if he were behaving poorly, but for the most part, I get to giggle and play and leave the hard stuff for my brother.

When you make a girl an aunt, you give her the best listening ears.

As of right now I only listen to the sweet coos and hungry cries but I am fully prepared to listen to all the problems in his life in the future.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the best advice giver.

By the time my nephew needs advice, hopefully, I will have all of my life lessons perfected into relatable stories.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her a number-one fan

Anything you do in life sweet boy, I will be cheering you on. I already know you are going to do great things.

When you make a girl an aunt, she learns what true love is.

The love I have for my nephew is so pure. Its the love that is just there. I don't have to choose to show love every day, I don't have to forgive, I don't have to worry if it is reciprocated, it is just there.

When you make a girl an aunt, you make her the happiest person in the world.

I cannot wait to watch my precious nephew grow into the amazing person that I know he is going to be.

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Summer = Rest?

Sometimes it feels as if we need a vacation... from our vacation.

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Ah summer: Popsicles and sun burns, mixed with fresh-squeezed lemonade that local kids are pandering to make enough money for Roman candles and Black Cats. The crack of the bat can be heard among the simmering charcoal grills and Troy-bilts humming through the ever-lasting sun. School is out and children are wild. It's a paradise.

Or is it?

But after countless sports camps and tournaments, other camps, vacations, school (?) events, traveling teams, VBS, summer seems to have been sucked fun-free.

Maybe it's Hollywood and Harper Lee's fault for giving us this utopian view of what summer should look and feel like (I'm looking at you Sandlot). But how can we really rest this summer? Because everyone needs some actual rest, even adults.

First thing is do NOT pack your summer full. Say no to some things. Coaches and Families can expect too much and it's okay to say no to them. You have to. There is no time for kids to be kids anymore.

Work can take a backseat. Vacations need to be taken. Families need to reconnect.

And for all my super-scheduled people out there, please PLEASE don't schedule out your vacation. Just enjoy it.

Another bit of advice would be to put away the technology and spend some time outside. When was the last time you tried to catch lightning bugs? Or went for a swim? Or listened to birds on your front porch?

I may sound like I have an old soul, but I really feel like we have lost this connection to the outside world. Summer is all about getting a farmer's tan and getting stung once or twice. I can guarantee you that's some of the best therapy in the world.

Maybe this sounds all over the place. Maybe this sounds like me ranting. And it probably is.

But I'm telling you that this stuff matters. Don't let summer whiz by and you arrive in August more drained that you were in May. Enjoy this time with family and friends.

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