Deleting the past

I have a chronic habit of deleting old blogs. A week or so ago, I decided to revisit some of my old blogs that were still up … It brought about a mixed bag of feelings …

I was incredibly different as recently as two years ago. My beliefs, values, opinions, interests, and even personality were different, and – I’m honestly not proud of the girl I used to be. Yet the fact is, I can remember some of those feelings from two years ago and I know that I only ever meant well and I only wanted to do what was right. Sure, that girl was naive about life and things. But I don’t think I should be ashamed of her. And even if I did have something to be ashamed of about her … she was me. I won’t say she IS me. But without her, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. She was the stepping stone and an integral part of my life.

I cringe so much at who I used to be and the things I used to do and the words I used to write. But at one point that was me. What does it say about me that I want to hide the past?

The Internet is a gift and a curse. I started writing a blog at around 11 years old (although it was a private blog, thankfully) and giving someone of that age the ability to share virtually anything with complete strangers from all over the world is rather terrifying. Imagine if everyone knew what we were like at 11. When you think about it that way, it seems a gift that archives from the past can be deleted. Because archives from the past can be deleted (as long as you’re not too famous on the Internet). But that can be a curse as well.

Think about real life. With the Internet, if you obtain a pseudonym, no one knows it was YOU who did it and you can always start over. In real life you can’t erase someone’s memory of yourself and it’s much harder to be anonymous. So our pasts inevitably stay with us. We don’t have the option of deleting them so we are forced to learn to come to terms with them. I mostly try to avoid thinking about the embarrassing or bratty moments of my past but what do you know? The people in my life still love me. Those things happened and people saw and I survived. It’s all turned out fine. I turned out fine. I didn’t ruin my life.

Should we delete the past if we don’t like it? I’m not going to say a flat out no. I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong in wanting to erase the less than stellar moments of our lives and I won’t fault you for wanting that. After all, the internet is a public place and I know I would rather not torture the Internet with younger me (or even current me … I’ll probably regret this blog in future). And it is possible to make mistakes with huge consequences that will bite us in future.

But I just want to say – and I guess this is more as a note to myself than anyone else – that we shouldn’t be afraid of regrets. Or, to rephrase that, we shouldn’t have to be haunted by regrets.

The past is what it is. We do things we’re not proud of. Many of them have consequences and we have to live with them. But it’ll be alright in the end.

Live and do your best.