“So you made a mistake in your past? Who among us, was never young and stupid at one time or another? So, you have a few skeletons in your closet…who doesn’t? I don’t know anyone whose closet is that clean. Your past does not define who you are now. It is what you do, and how you live going forward that will ultimately define you and leave a lasting impression on those around you. When you grow from your mistakes, you have gained that cardinal virtue called wisdom.”
~ Nonnie Jules
Nonnie Jules, founder and President of Rave Reviews Book Club, is a visionary, a creative administrator, is fiercely competitive, and a gifted writer. Besides writing poetry, novels, non-fiction, and her blogs, Nonnie also showcases a collection of original quotes on her website Books By Nonnie , and it is here that I found this quote. I find most of her quotes thought provoking, so I visit her site regularly for pearls of wisdom. Because Nonnie Jules is an inspirational leader, those who know her well like to refer to her as Wonder Woman!
The people I like to associate with, both online and offline, are positive individuals who honestly try to grow as time marches on. I believe that it is this kind of personal development that Nonnie is encouraging with these words. I admire my daughter, who is an insurance executive professionally, and a wife and mom in her personal life. She refuses to hire negative people or include such individuals in her personal life. She adamantly maintains that negative people just drag her spirit down, and she won’t allow it! As I see it, that is a choice for personal growth.
The first section of the quote points out that none of us go through life as angels. We have hurt others or done things we’d prefer to forget about. Often, when we were younger, we did stupid things! As I read that, I smiled thinking about all the older folks who never grew up and persist in their foolish, self-centered behavior. In my experience, stupidity is not the sole province of the young! For the record, I define stupidity as the refusal to learn. I don’t believe that Nonnie is saying that only the young act foolishly, but it is true that many people do grow out of such behavior as they age. This kind of growth is no accident and it won’t happen just by wishing for it.
As Nonnie puts it, we all have skeletons in our closet. So what? she asks. We do not have to be prisoners of our past! We should never define ourselves by the skeletons, nor should we lock ourselves in that closet or in any other, for that matter. Who we were and what we did are certainly part of who we are today. As Nonnie asserts, who you are now as a person, is defined by how you act now – how you live as you navigate the present and move toward the future. For me, the key idea here is movement. If we stay in our closet, content with who we were, then that’s who we’ll always be. Just as our bodies need movement to function well and remain healthy, so does our spirit. Some people call it our soul, but no matter how you name it, it is our spirit that propels us forward, or not; seeks to learn and improve, or not; and it will define who we are now! That intangible force within us needs to be directed by a mind that is determined to overcome whatever obstacles stand in the way of personal development. Growth is an act of the will.
As I see it, growth is all-important. The alternative is ugly and tragic. I’ve seen elderly people who are angry, bitter and choose not to see any good in anything. These people may have chosen not to grow, to be negative, and discovered that negativity begets more negativity. It is a never-ending cycle of unhappiness. Nonnie talks in terms of leaving a lasting impression on people. That strikes a chord in me because I believe that we all have a responsibility to make this world a better place. Living as a wholesome and caring individual will not only impress people but it has the potential to inspire them as well. This is a great way to improve our world – to be the agent of positive change for those with whom we have contact. As we grow and become wiser, this enables us to leave a lasting positive impression on others. Wisdom, what a powerful, enviable legacy!