Hindsight is 20/20 : looking back so we can move forward

There’s an old saying that goes, Hindsight is 20/20 and surely we’d all agree that it’s far easier to understand something after it has already happened –after we have lived through it and have gotten to the other side.

  • the toxic relationship we should have left sooner (or never been in to start)
  • the test we could have studied harder for
  • the risk we shouldn’t have taken
  • the risk we should have taken
  • the people we could have loved a little harder, not knowing they’d be gone

We tell ourselves, I should have, why didn’t I, if only I had just

We resolve to do better next time, armed with experience and perspective.

None of us could have predicted this year’s events – or the fact that a pandemic would take the world by storm. But, the hardstop that was brought by Covid-19 has actually provided us all with a rare opportunity to look back at our life, the one we were living pre-Covid-19, so that we can move forward with greater purpose and intention.

In this moment, hindsight is 20/20 and we can use that vision to pave a path forward

Quarantine is a reset from the hustle and the overworked lives we live. It’s a reset from all the unconscious ways in which we were filling our days. It’s a reset from how we were fueling our bodies, minds and spirits. It’s a reset from the pollution we create in the world – a reset from the harmful ways we treat one another and ourselves. It’s a reset, a chance, for our world to move forward with more mindfulness, purpose, compassion and love.

When I think about my life pre-Covid-19 – the overworking, the obsessing, the expectations and pressure I put on myself physically, mentally and emotionally – I found myself recently asking, What were all those things for?

I thought about my quest to have everything I did “be” perfect – for me to “be” perfect.

All the things I thought really mattered: my status, how I looked, how others thought I looked, who liked me versus who didn’t like me – fell flat in the face of Covid-19.

I realized when all those things were stripped from me – there was no job, no status, no place to go where I could worry about how I “looked” – I was left empty handed, wondering what really mattered in my life.

The things I thought mattered. Didn’t. But my health? The health of my family and friends? The health of all humans everywhere? The amazing friendships and relationships I have in my life? My teaching? I realized those were the things that really mattered, those were the things that mattered all along; they simply fell to the wayside for all the superficial shit.

We all have buckets in our life that comprise who we are and what we value from our career and goals to our family and friendships to our health and wealth. While we have some buckets with more eggs, we generally have our eggs spread throughout the various areas of our life.

Not me.

My eating disorder therapist recently pointed out to me, “Amy, you’ve got all your eggs in one bucket: your self-image. How you think you look and how you think others think you look is how you value your self-worth. Every area of your life is connected to this because the basis of who you think you are relies on this one bucket. You’ve got all your eggs in this bucket!I think you’re more than that – that there’s other buckets that comprise who you are as a person, and I think you know that too. Our work is to get you to see ALL your buckets and to realize how you look is not who you are.”

I wanted to fight her on this (as I fight her on most things related to her diagnosis), but the thing was…she was right about my eggs being in one bucket.

Looking back, I realized the only bucket I’ve been carrying these almost 38 years was my self-image bucket. At some point, from a very young age, through my years in beauty pageants, dance and sports, I began to put all my eggs in this one bucket. I believed my worth was intricately connected to how I looked and how others saw me. How I looked was how I was valued. How I looked determined how worthy I was as an individual or how successful I could be.

Even now, weeks away from 38 – despite logically and empirically knowing the contrary to be true, that my worth isn’t defined by how I look – there’s still a part of my brain that operates under this premise: who you are is how you look. It’s a fight I face daily. Some days I’m winning, but most days it feels like I’m losing.

Quarantine, in so many ways, has provided me with the space and time to reflect on my life and where I want to go from here – personally and professionally. It’s enabled me to take on new projects like writing my book, to develop new fitness formats like Alchemy and Band Camp, and to take unprecedented, brave steps forward in my eating disorder recovery by working with a therapist.

Each of these new ventures have taught me something about myself. My therapy, in particular, has forced me to confront some big things – to face some big fears – and to think about all of those things in new ways.

Hindsight is 20/20, but the knowledge that is imparted to us in this space only becomes wisdom when we use experience and perspective to pave a new path forward.

Change is never easy, no matter how badly we want everything to be better or fixed or different than it is. I try to remind myself of that with compassion each day as I continue to take steps forward.

No matter what uncertain or brave path you’re on, may you find comfort in knowing you aren’t alone and that compassion makes the steps forward more tolerable.

What’s something you’ve learned about yourself or your life as a result of quarantine? I’d love to hear your insights and reflections in the comments below.