Writing Challenge: The Life-Changing Moments That Weren’t

This is my response to the latest WordPress Weekly Challenge: In an Instagram.

***

When I came across this challenge yesterday, my first reaction was, “Oh, this will be easy.”  All that I had to do was pick an instant that changed my life, a split second in which I was forever changed.  Surely, a moment like this would have to be so obvious, right?

Wrong.  After a day of thinking, I had nothing.  What made it even more frustrating was the fact that there were several moments that should have changed me, that should have affected me more, but they didn’t, or, if they did, the change was only fleeting.

For instance, my parents divorced when I was very young, and the strongest description I can think to describe its affect on me was that it was an inconvenience.  It didn’t ruin my life.  In fact, in many ways, it enhanced my life, as I now have an extended family without whom I wouldn’t be half of the woman I am today.

Then, there was the year that my family seemed to be plagued with unexpected deaths and loss, which was, of course, followed by a falling out of the generation before mine.  No one speaks, holidays are tense, but I seem to have stepped away from all of this completely unscathed—with the omission of my irrational fear of death, that is.  I love my family and my roots, regardless of what may have happened a few years ago.  I never let it affect me, but should it have?

It would be remiss to forget the year that I almost failed out of college or the night that I nearly died.  These two events seemed to be the obvious choices for this challenge; they were actually the first that I thought of for the simple reason that they are so obvious.  But they just didn’t seem right.  Sure, I learned from them, I regret them, and my chest tightens whenever they’re brought up, but can I pinpoint that this was when I was changed forever?

From tension in relationships to struggles with my body image to moments of brief epiphany to, the worst, saying things that have made my mother cry, I don’t feel that I can single out any of these moments as an instant or a split second that left me forever changed.

Much of this could be related to the fact that I am young, only 22, but this realization left me bewildered.  Am I so numb and unfeeling that these moments have had no affect on me?  I know that this can’t be the case because, in a recent conversation with my family, I was voted ‘Most Sensitive’–and not in the good way.  What is almost more interesting than the moments that change us are the moments that should have been earth shattering–but weren’t.

Maybe it’s because, for me, it’s an amalgamation of these moments that have ultimately made me who I am, the good bits and the bad bits that make me Me.    It is through tension in relationships that I’ve learned to put love and respect above all else, while also having learned the quickest way to win and end an argument.  It is through struggles with body image that I’ve developed a love-hate relationship with my body, some days embracing it, other days avoiding the mirror at all costs.  I try to write down my epiphanies and remember them, lest I should forget and revert back to old habits, but I’ve discovered that sometimes it takes learning the same lesson over and over again to fully understand.  And I realize now that, despite our years of knock-down-drag-outs, my mother was a helicopter mother as a result of her own experiences; she’s only tried to give me what she didn’t have, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I guess I’m trying to make two points:

1)   Sometimes it’s more important to remember the moments in our lives that should have changed us but didn’t.  After all, it’s never too late to learn from the past.

2)   Life is full of many moments and monumental changes.  The person that I am today is thanks to all of these moments—not just one.

-H

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5 thoughts on “Writing Challenge: The Life-Changing Moments That Weren’t

  1. Not every significant moment is also a life-changing moment. There’s a subtle but important difference. Significant events may be trials, but they can be overcome without putting one into a new phase of life. Truly life-changing moments are rare, I think, regardless of age or lifestyle.

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