In my adulthood i’d hoped to shed the need for do-overs in my arsenal; the result of misjudging things so grandly that they require me to erase them from existence rather than simply adjusting, learning, and moving on. It seems silly as i write it now. Silly to think that at almost 40 i have not figured everything out at least enough to negate the whimsical desire to restart my game of life.

I work with high school students. Few things make me feel as old as high school students. Not babies or toddlers, or even my nieces (the first one just shy of entering her tweens) make me feel as grey haired and obsolete as high school students. In part it is because they delight in doing so- exaggerating the things that set us apart. But part of it is because i remember being where they are even as it is inconceivable to them. And while i’m sure my memory of myself is skewed, as my boss pointed out the other day, the point is i remember sitting where they sit, my life billowing out before me with little form or substance but a universe of possibilities.

I remember making my first pseudo-adult mistakes and wanting to melt into the floor. Wanting to disappear. At the very least, to reset the board and try again. I desperately wanted do overs.

Instead i learned that if you endure, you learn. If you learn, it passes. I learned that few lessons stick like the epic ones, the ones that confuse, the ones that hurt.

In recent years most of my epic lessons have felt different. They felt like the advanced setting on whatever game i was living. So while the lessons i was subject to learning weren’t entirely new, they felt more complicated, more adult. And because there was complexity, learning the lessons, even the painful ones, didn’t feel entirely redundant. Didn’t feel like i should have known better. Should have learned this and moved on already.

But right now i do. Right now my learning stinks of déjà vu.  i feel foolish and young in my misjudgments. Not young of heart. Not youthful. Not even naïve. Instead, young as chump. Young as follied. Young in a “shame on me” kind of way.

There is a rational part of me that knows that age alone doesn’t graduate me from learning, even the simple lessons. New experiences, or variations on a theme, will emerge and if i’m lucky i’ll read the signs properly and walk away with a reinforced understanding of the world. But sometimes there are no signs to read – or the signs are in another language, in another country, in another world all together. sometimes the signs, though seemingly familiar, are actually as foreign as they come, and the lessons as mortifying as anything high school and college threw my way. And in those times, as in my youth, i yearn for the do overs that, while novel to contemplate,  never actually existed.

3 Comments on do-over

  1. Kris Kohler says:

    You are a stunning, stunning writer… and I can’t agree more with the sentiment. Wishing you blue.

  2. Ladawn says:

    Me too…

  3. Candace says:


    Myself and I are in an ongoing conversation about the need to internalize both that there are no do-overs, and that it’s still ok to wish, sometimes, that there were.

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