Wednesday, May 25, 2011

#30: Forgive.

Throughout the course of my 30 Before 30 Project, I've had to reflect on the meaning of forgiveness. When I wrote the word "Forgive" in the final spot on my list, it was born out of a wish to go back to the person that I used to be: someone who held no grudges and no ill feelings towards anyone, no matter what had transpired in the past. When I was writing my list, I thought that I needed to find my way back to being the person that I was before my life went into a tailspin in order to be happy again.

As the project progressed, however, I found out more about myself, what I'm capable of—and ultimately, what I'm worth. With every new friend made and every timeworn friendship made even stronger, I came to realize that these people that I adore having in my life also think of me as someone worth knowing and loving. With every fear overcome and seemingly insurmountable challenge conquered, I found out that I'm made of some pretty strong stuff. With every new place explored and new experience soaked up, I realized how much promise the future held.

Knowing all that, how could I want to go back?

But even though the original intention behind wanting to forgive didn't hold anymore, it was still something I couldn't let go of. Did I need to forgive the people who betrayed me? Did I need to forgive myself for not being more careful with who I allowed close enough to cause me real damage?

Forcing myself to forgive someone who hurt me in unfathomable ways made very little sense to me. That sort of forgiveness happens in its own time and cannot be given a deadline.

Forgiving myself seemed to be a good way to go. I spent a lot of time being very angry at myself for failing to protect myself. I've never had my own back. I jump into relationships littered with red flags just as easily as I do out of planes and towers, knowing I always manage to bounce back and not caring what I risk in the process. Sometimes, my daring leads me to incredible highs. But other times it brings me to gut-wrenching lows. Reflecting on my own role in the pitfalls of my life gave me a new sense of awareness and hopefully taught me lessons for the years and relationships to come.

It wasn't until Sunday morning, one day into turning 30, that I finally found a definition of forgiveness that brought me peace and closure. Together with a heartwarming birthday greeting, my friend Janine sent me a quote that finally put everything into perspective:

"Forgiveness is about giving up the hope that the past could have been any different."
- Oprah Winfrey

I still recall those first few days of heartbreak, when I would be doubled over in bed wracked with tears at the life that had fallen apart around me. I would have given anything then for things to go back to the way they were.

Now, a year and a half later, I wouldn't change any of it—not the mistakes made, the devastation wrought, the anger that swelled up, the resolve that came to reclaim my life, and especially not the grace that allowed me to turn the bitterness into something so, so sweet.

A week ago, fellow blogger Lach interviewed me and asked me what my biggest regret was. Before this project, I would've found it easy to come up with an answer but having gone through what I have over the past year and change, I said, "I can’t say that I have one. Good things came out of even the most painful events of my life, and I wouldn’t be the person I am if I hadn’t gone through it all—so no regrets."

So if forgiveness is indeed letting go of that hope that my past could be different, then I can say with all honesty and confidence that I've achieved that.

But at the end of it all, I don't know if I've earned the right to cross off #30 on my list. The truth is, it doesn't matter anymore. My little project has done so much more for me than I ever expected it to and I can't ask for anything more at this point.

During the interview, Lach also asked me what book changed my life and I told him that as cliché as it sounds, it's The Alchemist. And as always happens when I come to thinking about this book, I realize that despite reading it numerous times, I can never recall how the story ends.

That's because the point of the story was never the ending. It was about the colorful journey of a shepherd boy and how it was this journey that was ultimately his reward.

And I guess that's how my project ends, too. Did I succeed at crossing off everything on my list? It really doesn't matter. All that matters is that I've had the time of my life.


  1. Congratulations, Celine!!! This project of yours has been such an inspiration and eye-opener for myself :) I'm going to bookmark this post. I just received some disappointing news that now I'm blaming myself because I feel duped and stupid. It's going to take a while, but I hold the hope I'll get past this :)

  2. Congratulations Celine! I have been following your blog since last year and i just love how you have managed to set your mind to finish off this list! I'm turning 30 this year as well and your journey has inspired me make the most of every opportunity that comes and embrace life to the fullest. I wish you more adventures in the next chapter of your life. 30 is the new 20! =) Now is the best time to give in to all those guilty pleasures before we become parents and life for our future children. Happy birthday! Cheers!

  3. Lex dear, so sorry that you're going through a tough time. I know it's difficult to move on but I hope my experience at least gives you some measure of hope that this too shall pass. Thanks for sharing the project with me! Big hug from NY.

    JM, thank you so much for having followed along on the journey! It blows my mind that people like you have found inspiration in my story. I have to say that it makes all the effort worth it when I hear such things. Cheers to you, me and "the new 20"!

  4. Celine! OMG I missed your countdown. Belated happy birthday!!! :) This project of yours is too awesome for words. I hope your positivity and energy rub off on more people. I'm 30 already but I want to make a 31 before 31. Haha. :) Cheers!!!

  5. No worries Janis! Thank you so much for following my little project. Your message means so much to me! Haha why don't you do a 35 Before 35 so there's not a crazy amount of pressure? My next list will have at least a 5-year timeline! Hahaha ...

  6. Congratulations, Celine. This is the best ending to the project, the sweetest dessert to a numerous course meal. =) Well done, and can I just say you inspired thousands of girls, and in that sense alone, you've conquered the world! It's time to conquer my list now. Hugs to you sister!


  7. Wow, Dang, that statement blows my mind! Thanks for following along and I do hope your list will do as much for you as it did for me! HUGS!

  8. aw celine! LOVE this post. what a wonderful way to end the year of accomplishments and a kickoff to all the new things to come. you're an inspiration. :)

  9. It's on my list to Stop Being So Angry...and for the most part I have actually stopped being so mad at friends, family and life. I'm glad you've learned more about yourself and I can't wait to hear about your accomplishments in the future!

  10. Kristina - I'm glad you liked it! Thank you so much for the kind, kind words!
    Jessica - It's tough road to take and I can't say for sure I've really been able to forgive, but it's a step towards healing. Thank you so much and more power to you on your project!

  11. cel, i love tuning in to this blog! are you gonna do another one?

    as for this final post, i think some people are not worth dwelling on. forgiveness is about acceptance that you got duped and the willingness to let bygones be bygones. the gift of a blank slate also shows how much you care to trust and start over a new relationship with the same person. but imo, when the shit hits the fan i'd rather forget and start fresh than clean bs crap! lol

  12. Awww thanks Trins! I am on a little hiatus right now. Getting through this one was a bit exhausting! For now I'm enjoying the rest, reflection ... running wild ... Haha! I'm toying with another "project" blog idea but will have to refine it before I start!

    I agree with you. Acceptance seems to be a more realistic and healthy goal. Sometimes there's no point in trying to fix what's already broken. Here's to new beginnings!

  13. all i can say is... WOW! and congratulations!! this blog of yours and everything you did before turning 30 is just amazing! you're an inspiration celine! thank you...

    oh belated happy birthday by the way and cheers to new memories, new bucket lists and to just living the best life that you possibly can! God speed ;)

  14. Thank you E! It is really heartwarming to read comments like yours. You are so very welcome; if my amazing little journey helped you in any way, I am truly glad! Thank you for joining me on my little journey!

  15. Thanks for sharing! You and your blog make me all excited and that is such a priceless feeling :D

  16. Thank you so much Maaike and I do apologize for my tardy reply! As you may have noticed, I've been taking a break from blogging lately. But from the bottom of my heart, thank you for joining me on this journey and I am so happy to hear that I've brought you even the tiniest bit of excitement! Warms my heart :-)

  17. Wow! I just stumbled upon your blog when a friend of mine suggested I search for other blogs that might have a similar theme to mine. I really enjoyed your list! After having survived 2 near-fatal car accidents (innocent passenger in both), an ugly divorce, and several other stressful incidents in the last couple of years, I wasn't sure how to usher in this new feeling of "starting over" that I had come year 29.5, but I feel I'm getting there. The forgiveness component you talk about (especially Oprah's quote) really hit home. Thanks for sharing!!

  18. Thank you so much for stopping by and glad to hear that this post (and project) was something you could relate too. My little project was one of the most amazing things I've ever done and I will cherish it for the rest of my life. I wish you all the best in yours! I made a little donation to your project that I really hope will help. Good luck!

  19. Celine, I Love love LOVE this idea. I just started compliing my list of 30 before 30 and I def borrowed your idea. If you want to see if I get my stuff done check it out.

    Thanks for being such a beautiful inspiration for chicks everywhere!

    1. Thank you so much for the sweetest comment, Laurie Ann, and I'm so sorry for the late reply. I've been neglecting this blog for The Happily Ever After Project. Best of luck on your project!


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