How To Move Forward, Despite The Baggage

Apr 03, 2015 1 Min Read

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Solo trip

Ever wondered what drives people to react the way they do? Why do some people run away when dealt unexpected circumstances, while others face the situation head on?

Why do some people get buried in their sense of loss while others rise above it?

These issues are addressed in the movie, Wild, which tells the heart-warming tale of Cheryl Strayed, a young woman whose life spins out of control after the demise of her beloved mother.

Her determination to pick up the broken pieces of her life and get back on track is based on true events from her memoir, Wild – A Journey from Lost to Found.

Finding our true selves

“Cheryl, if there’s one thing I can teach you, it’s how to find your best self and when you do, hold on to it for dear life.” – Bobbi (Cheryl’s mother)

This line speaks volumes about how we can easily lose sight of who we are due to the stresses of everyday life.

She becomes promiscuous and develops a heroin habit to drown out her immense sorrow.

To save herself, she decides to hike 1,100 miles. “I am going to walk myself back to the woman my mother thought I was,” she says.

Similarly, we may have indulged in unhealthy habits due to extenuating circumstances. It was not the hike but rather the time spent alone on personal reflections that gets Strayed back on track.

“Me time” is important as it gives us space to reflect on the things that we are doing. Just as we go through our wardrobe periodically to make space for new clothes, we need to periodically re-examine ourselves as well.

Reserving a specific time every week just for yourself can go a long way in promoting feelings of renewal and rejuvenation. Remove all distractions, turn off your gadgets, find a comfy spot where you can be alone and just reflect on your life’s journey.

Being accountable

How easy it is to blame others when things go wrong. To point fingers and run away from responsibilities. However, Strayed teaches us about being brutally honest with ourselves. She acknowledges making some poor choices in life. Surprisingly, when she reflects on those choices that she had made, she does not seem to regret it. Instead, she views it in a different light.

“What if all those things I did were the things that got me here?,” she asks.

Rather than dwelling in regret or blaming others, she chooses to see her blunders as part of the plan to make her who she is today.

The same sentiment flows through Bobbi when she admits that she does not regret her abusive marriage as it resulted in Strayed and her brother, Lief, both of whom she loved deeply.

Strayed and Bobbi teach us that everything we have done in the past makes us who we are today.

Therefore, challenge how you view your past experiences. Adopt the mindset that all your experiences help shape you. Now, take some time to relook past experiences you may have labelled as “bad”. If you look hard enough, you would be able to see some good in it.

Taking charge

“I’ve always been someone’s daughter or mother or wife. I have never gotten to be in the driver’s seat of my own life,” says Bobbi after being diagnosed with lung cancer.

This profound statement indicates the single point of regret in Bobbi’s life. Only when she finds out that her days are numbered does she realise that she has never been true to herself.

Oftentimes we do things to please others. We do what society dictates. But who are we living for? When will we stop living to please others and start living to please ourselves?

This does not mean shirking our responsibilities but rather recognising that we are our own individual apart from the other roles we hold in life.

Strayed decided that she was not going to share the same regrets as her mum. The moment she decided to hike, she just went with it despite having no hiking experience.

Sometimes, that is all we need to do. To just take that first step and run with it. Stop waiting for that “perfect moment” as it may never materialise.

Set aside time to do what fulfils you. This will go a long way in making your life more meaningful and satisfying. The key is to know what you truly want in life and work towards attaining it.

Concluding thoughts

Wild shows us that sometimes all we need is a change in mindset in order to live a more fulfilling life. Taking time off for personal reflections is pivotal in staying true to ourselves.

During these times of reflection, we must acknowledge our past and learn to savour the joy in our lives. Lastly, setting time aside to develop ourselves as individuals is essential in keeping us both sane and happy.

Caroline Regina is an aspiring psychologist who enjoys movies based on true life stories. Such stories evoke her curiosity to find out more. Being an avid reader, she hopes to get her hands on Strayed’s memoir, Wild: The Journey from Lost to Found. Connect with Caroline at For more Movie Wisdom articles, click here.

Published in English daily The Star, Malaysia, 4 April 2015

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This article is published by the editors of with the consent of the guest author. 

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