The past cannot be changed. The future is yet in your power.
I was watching Revenge last night and it got me thinking about the role of the past in people’s lives, both fictional and real. If you haven’t seen the show, it’s about a girl whose father was convicted of a crime he didn’t commit and then murdered in prison who plots to get revenge on the people who framed him. The past defines her, her actions are a direct consequences of the anger and betrayal she feels and she can see no future until she punishes those responsible.
When writing, it’s important to think about the past of our characters and how that might be shaping them now. I’ve always liked stories where a character is damaged by their past but through the story learns to move on from it. I think that always makes a great story and also one that resonates with all of us. Because unless you’re very lucky we all have some kind of demon from our past that can impact our present or future – it could be heartbreak, grief, a mistake or being a victim of a crime. And different people will be affected differently – some find it easy to move on, others struggle with future relationships.
It’s easy to let the past define us – to constantly regret what we’ve said or done and mess up our present and future because we feel angry or guilty or sad, but the past can also be used positively. It should make us stronger and wiser now – show us what we don’t want or how we want to be now. Everyone makes mistakes but learning from them makes you a better person in the end.
Stories like Revenge will always appeal – who hasn’t thought about getting their own back of people who have hurt us? But even if you did do that, I don’t think it would change how you feel in the long run because you would feel guilty about it – the best revenge is just to let those people go and not let them hold you back or stop you from being the person you are meant to be. Because letting the past rule your future will only make you unhappy.
You don’t have to be the person you used to be – you can be anyone you want to be.
How do you stop your past from defining you?