As the first quarter of 2017 has come and gone and we are well into a new year, I reflect on the idea of new beginnings. Unlike New Year’s resolutions that vow change and demand evident action (you didn’t do it unless someone sees it), new beginnings involve taking a moment to take your plane’s gear off auto-pilot and reflect on whether or not the route that you’ve been traveling is leading you to the destination that you truly want to go. Oftentimes, our lives are set on auto-pilot. We accept the way that things are because that’s how they are. However, by stopping to reflect, we may realize that the preset destination is not the one that we want to arrive at anymore. In that case, it’s important to take control of the plane – that is your life – and steer in a new direction. It may not be easy and it will be scary – but the destination will be worthwhile.
I wish to share the story of Ella. Ella had always struggled with her choice of relationship partners. Plagued by the disappointment of a string of unsuccessful relationships, Ella entered the next with determination for it to last. Soon after the start of her relationship with Joe, Ella discovered that Joe struggled with addiction. With no knowledge of how to help Joe, Ella dedicated herself to trying to find out. Despite her efforts, not only was she too poorly-equipped to help him, she was losing the sense of herself. Joe tried to hide his addiction by shutting himself out – from the world and from Ella. He was ignorant of the implications of his illness and denounced treatment. As the addiction worsened, Joe’s finances crumbled. As the addiction worsened, Joe lost one job, then another. As the addiction worsened, Joe lost the will to live. So, Joe attempted to take his own life.
In her heartbreak, Ella was burdened with deciding between supporting Joe’s journey and neglecting her own, or facing another failed relationship. It elicited fear, insecurity, guilt, and pain. Ultimately, however, Ella decided to stop flying auto-pilot.
After a year of supporting Joe to get back on his feet, Ella decided that it was time for a new beginning. She no longer wanted to continue on the route that Joe had predestined for them. Ella took the leap and left. She dedicated time to herself to decide on what she wanted her destination to be. When she chose the destination – and was sure that it was the one – she took course. And she didn’t look back.
Life is not always about knowing the right destination. It’s about knowing when it’s the wrong one and having the courage to change it. I hope that Ella’s true story of a new beginning will inspire you to find yours as well.
Jessica Tong, RD
Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Consultant