You Were Born to Reinvent Yourself, Again and Again
Where are you on the Life Edit Scale—ranging from “Mild pontification of minor life changes” alllllll the way over to the “Detonate my life in a three-sticks-of-dynamite-kind-of-way”?
Whether you’re thinking about starting to think about tweaks here and there, or whether you’re yearning to enter the Witness Protection Program for a full-scale life start-over (OMG am I the only one who would love 12 months in the WPP, just for fun? 48 months, tops?), the great news is that change is fully and completely possible.
I love a good metaphor that also happens to be true, so I hope you’re as excited about this biological factoid as I am:
Just about every cell in and on your body is reinventing itself All. The. Time. Your skin cells, your esophageal cells, your kidney cells, your intestinal cells—don’t make me list all the organs in your body here please—they are all reinventing themselves. (In actuality they are dying and replacing themselves, and then mutating a bit as they replicate, but since this is neither an article about reincarnation nor zombie mutants, we’re holding firm with the idea that your cells are renewing themselves every few years, and so by extension of that, you might want to, too.)
Researchers counted: you’re made up of about 30 trillion cells. Approximately 330 billion cells are replaced every day, equivalent to about 1% of your cell total. “In 80 to 100 days, 30 trillion will have replenished”—the equivalent of a brand-spanking, new and improved you.
The tiny cells in your blood survive only 3 to 120 days, and the cells that line your gut last less than a week.
Skin cells recycle themselves every couple of weeks.
Your Chardonnay-soaked liver regenerates every one to two years.
Your skeletal system cells take about 10 years to renew.
Fat cells live an average of 12 years; approximately 10% of them are (unfortunately) renewed each year.
Muscle cells are stronger (bahaha); they last about 30 to 70 years.
Some cells are clingy and stick with you for the duration of your life—like some brain cells, eye cells, and heart muscle cells. Other than those stubborn little buggers, the rest of you is consistently refreshing itself. Your body is younger than the age on your birth certificate, cellularly speaking.
You’re a human construction site! Why not act like it?
Is it time to leave your old self behind? Or just parts of you—and more than just a few skin cells?
We’ve spoken before about how there are multiple versions of ourselves available to us, limited only by our imagination (or who we’d like to become) and our courage (because it can take gumption to make a life change, right?).
What questions/ ideas/ musings below resonate?
Might you want to refresh a limiting belief—something you think it true that might be holding you back? (E.g.: “They won’t want to hear what I have to say in the strategy meeting,” “I’m not athletic enough to play in that pickleball league,” “I’m too introverted to network on the days I’m in the office,” “I’m too old to apply for that job.”) Start reminding yourself that your beliefs are a bunch of bullshit (nothing personal! It’s just true; they’re based on old and often-distorted realities) and that you get to reframe or update what you believe to be true. You can choose to see life from different perspectives.
Maybe you want to adjust your calendar to have more You Time? (This will likely require you saying no to some things, or declining invitations, and you’ll be uncomfortable at first but it’ll work out just fine—more than fine, actually.)
You might want to shake up a routine in favor of trying something new—like a totally different workout, a different lunch than “the usual,” or a different kind of book than you usually read.
Might you choose to shed a relationship that’s no longer uplifting or energizing? Maybe even just a recalibration of how much time you spend with these dead cells folks?
You might want to reinvent your professional identity, either by refreshing your “personal brand” or by applying for a very different role in a very different industry (because it is entirely possible to start over—maybe a little lower on the totem pole for a bit, sure—in service of feeling more engaged and excited every Monday through Friday.) You know what else? You can take a sabbatical for a while, if you can afford it, and then come back to the trough when you want/need to.
You might want to reinvent your own image. Ditch the clothes that pinch and pull and buy stuff that fits and doesn’t make you feel disappointed with your body. Get the hairstyle you’ve always wondered about (and if it looks like a train wreck it’ll grow back and you can laugh about it later).
Maybe get (more) fit and feel fabulously energetic, like you did when you had a metabolism that wasn’t insulting?
You might choose to widen your life with vitality—adding more pleasure, experiences, and fun into your days? (E.g.: book that spelunking trip, pick up a new hobby, learn a new language, try that new cocktail bar.)
Might you want to deepen your life with meaning—enriching your existence with purpose, relationships, spirituality, wonder, and awe? (E.g.: go to the planetarium, visit an elderly relative and ask about their best high school memories, keep a gratitude journal for 21 days, perform a random act of kindness.)
Might you want to start living like the person in your ideal eulogy? Imagine how you’d like to be described when you’re lying all peaceful in the casket. “She was so generous.” “He was one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever met.” “I admired his creativity.” “She made me feel special every time we met.” “Um, I really liked his car.”
Is it easy to adjust your life? Of course not, but that’s what you signed up for when you asked to be born: the opportunity to do things that make you feel proud for doing them precisely because they took a wee bit (or a lot bit) of effort. Living a life worth living requires us to Give Two Shits (*sigh*).
If you long for change but the idea of it makes you break out into a rash, that’s okay. You can make thoughtful tweaks and adjustments and edits to your life, without the need to blow your universe up. Editing your life today, even in a small way, makes you more confident to do it again (if you want to) tomorrow.
If you pine for change and appreciate grand, sweeping overhauls, that’s okay too. Sometimes pressing a giant “Reset” button feels cleaner and easier. You can relocate your home, offspring, and cocker spaniel to Charleston because you darned well feel like it. Poof! New gastrointestinal cells and a new life.
Do you think now’s the time for the best-ever F. Scott Fitzgerald quote? I do too:
“For what it’s worth… it’s never too late, or in my case too early, to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit. Start whenever you want. You can change or stay the same. There are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you’ve never felt before. I hope you meet people who have a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you’re not, I hope you have the courage to start over again.”
Your cells are saying “let’s start this party over” all day and all night long. You’re not the same person you were ten years ago (those cells have long since recycled themselves), or even since last week (bon voyage, red blood cells). Follow your cellular lead: refresh, renew, recycle, shed, reinvent. (Definitely don’t mutate.) But do step forward as an even more magnificent version of yourself, again and again until that last stubborn heart muscle cell heeds the curtain call.