It’s easy to gloss over the things we don’t want to remember. But I want to encourage you to remember the bad stuff. The lowlights, the rejections, the missed opportunities — remember all of them.

Remember the Bad Stuff

Original photo byAnnie Spratt

This may seem really negative. Like, right now, you’re probably all like, “But Marisa, why? I’ve worked really hard to curate an Instagram aesthetic of perfection. I want to think of my life as ideal.”

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And, you know, if that’s the only thing getting you through your day, I guess keep it up.

But by now, you know me. (I mean, if this is your first time here, welcome, and you’ll know me by the end of this post.) I believe in taking your time. I believe in ripping off scabs to see what hellish infection lurks beneath. I believe in leaning into those bad feelings.

This is partly because I believe there’s no such thing as perfection. It’s partly because I believe most people are lying about what their lives are really like. It’s partly because I believe we’re all hiding something we’re uncomfortable with, and if we just sit long enough with that thing, eventually we’ll be ready to share it with the right people. And it’s partly because I want to learn from my mistakes and about myself.

So, I keep a planner. It’s the same one I’ve talked about a lot. You know, the Passion Planner with stickers and highlighted bits. I use it as a to do list and a time management tracker and a place to record progress. But I also use it to write down the bad stuff that’s happened. Not in any special ink color. Not with a special marker. It’s innocuous, really. The bad stuff blends in with the good. Like real life.

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And why would anyone do this? We should focus on the positive, right? Celebrate the wins! Commemorate the anniversaries! Revel in the glory!

And yeah. I do that.

But I also remember all the terrible stuff. Because I don’t want it to happen again. Because I don’t want to get stuck in a pattern. Because I don’t want to live a self-defeating and unaware existence. Because I want to get better from whatever it was.

It feels gross. I’ll be real. Like, when I go back through my planner, and look at all the progress I’ve made in a project or in my goals, and in the middle of all the good stuff, I see a reminder of my imperfections. It’s always little, and in the same color ink as the rest of the stuff for that day. But it’s there. Reminders of a terrible thing I said to someone. Or a time when I lacked willpower or self-discipline. Or a rejection on my writing.

It’s all there.

It’s all there because it has to be all there.

It’s all there because it has to be all there or I’m not being honest with myself.

I have to remember the bad stuff. I have to track it.

I don’t have to celebrate it or revel in it. (Or wallow in it.)

Wanna know a thing that is Quintessentially Marisa™️? In high school, I used to save the little paper fortune strips from fortune cookies. I’d keep them in my wallet, and pull them out from time to time. (It was a Roxy brand wallet from Pacific Sun, because like all girls who grew up in Oklahoma, I’m basically a surfer.)

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When you’re 15 or 16, everything seems so profound. And that was the case with a particular fortune. It said, and I quote because I remember it verbatim these 17 years later, “The deeper sorrow carves into your being, the more happiness you can contain.”

At the time, I didn’t know it was a modified version of a Kahlil Gibran quote from The Prophet. I didn’t know that Gibran had met the leader of a faith that a large portion of my family follows, and that meeting had inspired this book. I didn’t know how interconnected all of it was. I just knew I liked the sentiment.

And that’s why I remember the bad stuff. The deeper the bad stuff carves into my being, the happier I am.

And that's why I remember the bad stuff. The deeper the bad stuff carves into my being, the happier I am. Click To Tweet

So, I see it in my planner, and I realize how much happier I am for it.

Do you remember the bad stuff?

5 Responses

  1. You want to remember the horrible stuff, not only to not repeat it. Also to know it’s a process and you will make it out stronger. ( Going off of my personal experience. ) If you block it out it will come back with an ass beating from hell. You can’t move on to the next chapters of life without ending the previous ones! By that I mean remembering and/or healing with the bad stuff. It just helps us truely appreciate the good stuff in our life even more!
    Love the article Marisa Mohi

    1. Thank you so much for reading! And I agree about that ass beating from hell…if you don’t learn from the past, it’s gonna find you.

  2. What an inspiring post, Marisa. I like that you create meaning and specialness in things like the fortune-cookie fortune, rocks (from a past vlog), or tarot cards (from another vlog or blog) and then use that meaning to frame your thinking and attitude. Once again, great post!

  3. Right now I am in a daily fight with my energy and emotional health. One good day filled with motivation, ambition, and energy followed by a day of fatigue and zero ambition to do little more than hobble to the coffee pot and back to my desk. It’s a vicious battle and one I am trying to better understand so I can use it to my advantage. It’s just one thing in a handful of bad stuff that I dislike but try to understand so I can get through. Life is funny. And weird. And awkward. And…shit…where was I going with this? I need more coffee.

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