People always say that the key to moving on, from anything, is letting go, either from who you were, from something or someone you had that unexplainable metaphorical connection to. But moving on and letting go don’t necessarily go hand in hand. There’s something inside of us that will remain, whether it’s a piece of your former self, or the memory of someone you cared about. It’s just a part of our human nature, and that’s perfectly okay. So, don’t let someone convince you that to move on, you have to let go, because if you force yourself to do it, it most likely won’t happen.
Sometimes, especially in our early twenties, we need to be selfish, whether it concerns looking after our own well-being over others, taking that opportunity to work abroad or snag the top spot at your dream job. We’re at the age where looking after ourselves, more than just doing our own washing and cooking just about an edible dinner of pasta, is incredibly important. The state of health, both mental and physical, are key to surviving university. With the pressure of academic work alone being hard enough on students, we should be able to look after ourselves.
We can sometimes feel trapped within ourselves. Either there’s a metaphorical force trying to burst its way out of your chest, or the very opposite; there’s a gaping hole in your chest that, honestly, feels so immense that it actually feels real. You have to force yourself to think better, to feel better, but force only allows you to regress back into your shell. It may take a while, but you finally come to the realisation that you are actually the most important figure in your life, right now, right at this moment. Although you may not feel like it, and believe me, it’s not a foreign feeling to many of us, there will become a point where you finally feel comfortable enough to move on.
That’s not to say that you won’t feel the urge to resist moving on. Some say “out of sight, out of mind,” and for some, this might be the best option for moving on. However, you may end up resenting your sudden hasty and impulsive decisions in the long run. Take your time, only you know what’s best for you. Just because your friend seems to think there’s an expiry date on how you should feel, it doesn’t mean you have to stick to it. You may feel a range of emotions, including grief, hate, depression, anger, or whatever emotion that comes to mind. Using the complete deprivation approach may work, but removing appearances of a memory in the physical world is far easier than removing a memory itself. Unfortunately, we don’t live in an alternate universe that allows us to switch off part of our brain or delete painful memories, or rewind to change a decision. Unfortunately, our lives aren’t The Matrix, or Click. And as much as ‘Let It Go’ says, some part of you just can’t let it go, no matter how many times you convince you can.
But can one really move on with their life whilst carrying along the memory of someone or something they once held dear? Yes, you can. I know it may sound a completely bizarre thought, and you may laugh at how wrong I may seem. I would’ve done the same thing too, if someone had told me this six months ago. But it really is possible. Immerse yourself into new activities, with a new group of people, because then you don’t have to be faced with any reminder of that memory. Take those opportunities you’ve always wanted to. You’ll be refreshed and renewed, but you’ll always be the same person.
Moving on affects people in a multitude of ways, and some less savoury than others. Seeing your friend succumb to drugs every single day, when they swore to never make it a habit. Getting too drunk that they can’t look after themselves. Some may seek comfort in the company of someone else. Just anything to make them forget, because the memories and emotions are too overwhelming, that their emotions cross from love to hate within an instant. The few weeks, or months, may be overwhelming, but as many people have said, “only time will heal.” However, this isn’t necessarily true, so don’t rely on time to change things, because situations may turn out worse than you thought they would be.
For those seeking a more stable route, why not try mindfulness? It’s a craze that has been noted for its de-stressing attributes for those who seek to escape the overwhelming world of work. Try the app Calm for methods to help you sleep or feel less restless, calming anxiety, boosting your self-esteem or even optimising your happiness.
So burn those pictures, delete those videos, unfollow and unfriend, if you really want. You don’t have to learn to live without them, but merely adapt to living with them or the memory. Having a person as a constant feature in your life is difficult enough, especially when they seemed to have moved on way before you have. Don’t worry about them, focus on yourself, and trust me, I know how tempting it is to scream in their faces, shake them and yell at them, and ask why they’re doing this to themselves. They’re making their own mistakes now, and unfortunately, you may not be able to say the things you want to.
You don’t have to shut everything out to move on. Maybe holding on will enable you to be at peace with a memory. Hey, and who knows, they may be in the same position; they’re just making you think they’re okay.