We Live Many Lives in a Single Lifetime

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I was back in Philly for a few hours on Saturday.

After having dinner with a friend, I took a long, nostalgic walk and strolled by places that I used to frequent in my 20’s —my favorite bars; my first office after college; the place where we had a surprise engagement party; my favorite restaurants; the bar in which I celebrated the end of business school; my favorite lunch spot — and it was surreal. The streets hadn’t changed. Most of the stores and restaurants hadn’t changed. But I had changed.

I walked by those places, packed with people sitting in chairs in which I had sat, ordering the things I had ordered, and I have only glimpses and snapshots of memories. At times, it feels like it all happened to someone else and I was merely a witness. It doesn’t feel like it is a part of my life any longer.

I have the same feeling when I receive a Facebook friend request. Although the person graduated from high school with me and we have 80 “friends” in common, I have to dig out my yearbook in an attempt to ascertain who it is and my first thought is always, This person doesn’t know me any longer. At least not who I am now.

We actually live many lives in a single lifetime.

The person I was in college is distinctly different from the one I was in high school and, at 35, I cringe to think of who I was at 25. Some of these changes were intentional, but others are natural. As we grow and evolve, we leave certain parts of ourselves behind with people and places while also picking up different ones as we move along through life. The colors and combinations are always changing.

The length and depth of these lives vary for all of us depending our own experiences, but the way I see it, I have already experienced multiple mini-lives:

  1. Early childhood (ages 0 – 4)
  2. Preschool/kindergarten/elementary school (4 – 12)
  3. Junior high/high school (12 – 18)
  4. College/summer jobs (18 – 22)
  5. Post-college/early career (22 – 26)
  6. First house/business school/second job/serious relationship (26 – 30)
  7. Post-MBA/third job/marriage/child (30 – 33)
  8. Corporate job/long commute/prepping move (33 – 34)
  9. Different house in a different state (34 — ?)

And I’ll have many more. I won’t be with my current employer forever. I’ll probably have another child. Hopefully, one day, I’ll even retire.

Those things and many more, both good and bad, will occur and some will ultimately become natural delineation points in the timeline of my life.


Christopher Pierznik is the author of eight books, all of which can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, and many more. He has been quoted on Buzzfeed and Deadspin. Subscribe to his monthly reading review newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

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