My first pet was a little brown garter snake my brother and I found in the ravine behind our apartment building. Speedy lived in an aquarium in my bedroom, and after school I would let him coil around my wrist like a bracelet while I read one of my many books. One afternoon, I came home and discovered, much to my shock, a ghostly translucent shell of a snake near one of the rocks in the tank. My mother explained that this discarded “shell” was a completely natural process: He’d shed his skin because he needed more room to grow.
As I got older and the pressures of navigating middle-school social circles ramped up, Speedy’s literal example of growth and change as a positive, healthy thing stayed with me. I decided to let go of the parts of myself that I had outgrown (so long, Cabbage Patch Kids and jelly bracelets), and a newer, more refined self emerged—one who knew all the songs by Jem and the Holograms and would go to Grade 8 grad with one of the cool boys who dressed like Crockett and Tubbs on Miami Vice. Reinvention 1.0 wasn’t my finest hour, but it was the start of imagining more for myself than what I could see in front of me.
The new year is when goal-setting is top of mind. This month’s ELLE Guide: How to Reinvent Yourself offers advice on how to pull a one-eighty in your career, update your wardrobe and change unhelpful thinking patterns that might be holding you back. If you’d rather look to the cosmos for answers, our horoscope special offers insights into 2019, including the best getaways and accoutrements for your star sign. That said, it’s hard to look ahead without reflecting first, and in “The Upside of Regret” writer Leah Rumack explores the nature of regret. We all have those “if only” moments that we ruminate over, but she points out that a silver lining—the opportunity to grow—can be the ultimate antidote to regret. I couldn’t agree more. One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learned (other than to never, ever wait for a boy in a white linen blazer to ask you to dance) is that if I want to experience or have something different tomorrow, I need to do something different today.
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