We all make mistakes. We all have regrets. And, as adults, we tend to accept those mistakes and regrets as the end all and be all. When we were kids, though, our mentality was totally different: We kept that magic word “do-over” in our back pockets and used it frequently.
Perhaps you were in the schoolyard trying to do a cartwheel, and it wasn’t quite what you expected. Or you attempted a glorious free-throw shot and missed the basket. You’d be annoyed, but only for a moment before remembering you could just call a do-over. You could erase your last move; reset the clock; wipe your slate clean. You could take it from the top and begin again.
As kids, do-overs were commonplace. But as we got older, do-overs disappeared and were replaced by “mistakes.” I’d like us to get back to the do-over mindset; after all, it’s helped me immensely throughout my life.
My first year of high school was mediocre. I attended a very liberal school and spent more time hanging outside the building with friends than inside at classes — much to my parent’s dismay. Concerned I wouldn’t get accepted into a good college, my parents called a do-over and applied to new high schools on my behalf. The next year, I transferred to an all-girls high school, got good grades, made great friends, and, when the time came, was accepted to a reputable college.
By my sophomore year of college, though, I came to the realization that although the school offered terrific classes, it wasn’t a good fit for me. Rather than “suck it up” and finish my four years at a school that wasn’t right, I called a do-over. I applied and was accepted to New York University. NYU wound up being a great fit for me, allowing me to receive a solid education, gain valuable work experience, and make friends I still have more than 20 years later.
Fast-forward years down the line to just a few months shy of my second wedding anniversary, when I knew — for various reasons — the marriage wasn’t going to work out. I’d never felt more alone in my entire life and longed to be free. I hadn’t called a do-over since that college transfer, but I took the chance and hit that reset button. When I allowed myself to acknowledge the situation wasn’t right and move on, I once again realized the power of the do-over.
The very day I closed the door on the marriage, I met the man who, years later, would become my husband and father of our child.
Although that was the most important do-over of my life, it wasn’t the last. In fact, just this week, I called a do-over on a childhood experience: sleepaway camp. I hated camp as a kid — so much so that my parents took me home halfway through the session on visiting day. In all the years since then, I’ve envied my friends who still revel in their camp experiences and treasure their camp friends. Then, I heard about Soul Camp, a four-day sleepaway camp for grown-ups where all activities are optional. It was the perfect opportunity for a do-over. I signed up right away..
For the past few days, at the age of 44, I’ve awoken to the sounds of Reveille; gathered with my new friends at the flagpole and in the mess hall; danced, cheered, played, napped, and created; and giggled myself to sleep with my 12 bunkmates. This experience has, once again, reinforced that we can call do-overs of all types, at all times in our lives. We just have to be brave enough to hit that reset button.
The next time something doesn’t go right in your life, I invite you to shout, “Do-over!” and take it from the top. Sometimes, the second time’s the charm.
Jenny Powers is a member of the DailyWorth Connect program. Read more about the program here.