What does “back at square one” mean to you? To me it felt negative, that is until a recent conversation I had with Twitter user RustyWolf2019, which was prompted by a post from startinganew13 that read, “I hope that you live a life you are proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” This quote hit me like a ton of bricks because I thought “well, here I am again, back at square one”, so I replied that I loved it and shared my thought, this is where Rustywolf comes in. “Rusty” prompted a conversation about that phrase which lead me to really kind of rethink how I feel about the term.
Square one always felt negative to me. To my negative thought process, it felt like, “well, you failed, so try again”, but what if that isn’t what it is meant to mean at all? What if square one is just another version of, you didn’t find x amount of ways to fail, you found x amount of ways to succeed? What if square one is just another journey-branch on the tree of life? As I somestimes do, I decided to overthink it for a day, but it was a good overthink. I equate my good overthinking to planting a seed of unknown origin and waiting to see what you get. It’s kind of how I write too, which is probably not the conventional way, but I am kind of a slave to my brain and have to follow it’s path. When I fight it, it doesn’t turn out well, so many times I let my brain lead the way and see what kind of thought-plant comes out of it. As it turns out, this was a good thought-plant.
I realized square one was like that part in the game of Monopoly when you pass go and you collect the $200. In the game you are acquiring money and property, in life you are acquiring knowledge. Even if one, or more, of the square ones were rooted in not so good outcomes, you still made it to pass go. You grew another branch on the tree, and as “Rusty” reminded me, the square ones come with knowledge, and that if you take that knowledge you have gained you are going to learn from it and build on it.
How often do we repeat the same behaviors over and over and over again only to end back at that square one. The one where we did actually start, with no new knowledge? It’s not failure, so try not to think of it that way, but do try to grasp the idea, at some point, that what one might be trying isn’t working and that maybe a new way should be tried.
Life is filled with “back at square one”. Each one is a lesson, each one bringing knowledge, or understanding, or change, but as you continue around the board game of life, building on those journey-branches and filling out your tree of life, you will notice that you are picking things up along the way. If you keep ending up at “that” square one I mentioned in the previous paragraph, it is still a learning curve, even if you keep repeating the same motion over and over, because eventually you will turn around and try it a different way. Sometimes those square ones are rooted in fear. You don’t want to try something different, because “what if it doesn’t work?” Well, lots of things don’t work, at first, but as I am learning from this new “square one” of mine, it is okay to take a risk. It’s okay to see how things will work out, even if it isn’t the way you intended.
We have to learn to get out of our own way and to understand that not every toss-away quote is bad. Square one was negative to me, but after a very brief conversation I allowed myself to understand that maybe this isn’t such a bad thing. I have chosen to not continually get in my own way and while overthinking it, as I mentioned previously, I realized I couldn’t find anything wrong with my latest square one. I was exactly where I needed to be in exactly the right moment.
So the next time you hear square one, don’t be afraid of it. Think back to why you feel you are there and choose the next direction you want to go in. Life is filled with journeys, or in my new view, square ones. It’s how you choose to look at it that makes the real difference in how four simple words can change the way you think.