Events in the lives of each of our three children are becoming opportunities for their personal reinvention. Each are facing major life changes and so they must decide who they want to become.
Have you ever reinvented yourself?
Louis L’Amour said, “Everyone has it within his power to say, ‘this is who I am today, this is who I will be tomorrow’”. (note: L’Amour’s full quote is contained in today’s quote of the month)
We are all the sum of our experiences: good parents, bad parents, no parents. Good education, little education. Privileged or poor, lucky or unlucky.
And no matter how you came up, no one is immune to life’s bigger jolts - illness, physical and mental impairment, a lost job, a divorce, loss of a parent, sibling or close friend.
Major life changes have driven my own reinvention many times, including when I
- Left small-town Ashtabula for the vast wasteland of Ohio State University
- Took my first full time job
- Got married
- Had children
- Established ourselves in new towns five different times
- Became a church musician
- Got fired and started my own business
- Lost my Mom and Dad and three siblings
- Sold my business
Each personal reinvention is necessarily painful. Real change only happens after you realize you can no longer be who you are. And yet often we persist, clinging to our old self, denying our new opportunity.
But I had to move past the protection of my family and Ashtabula if I wanted to see if I could make it through a big university. I had to forego the cocoon of academics to get into full time work…in a new city and state I’d never been to. I had to become a decent husband to deserve Alice, a good Dad to earn my children’s trust, good leader for my employees, etc. Fear and failure preceded success in each case.
One thing that stands out is that in all these cases I had to “fake it until I could make it”. For example, I chose songs with only two or three chords in them for the first ten or twenty music masses I led. 😊
Long term reinventions cannot be rushed. My daughter recently said that regarding her own matters, “Dad, I have to work all the way through this myself so that I don’t miss what’s in this to learn”. That comment made me remember losing my Dad, the first overwhelming loss I faced. I remember thinking that I needed to fully experience it to get through it, then see what a new wiser me might look like.
Now I’m the father, grandfather, the “leader of my band”. It’s taking a lot of reinvention. So far I’ve been mostly faking it but I have confidence that I will make it.