I’m On My Third Life

How we limit our experiences by the entirety of our lifespan

Sylene "SylJoe" Joseph
4 min readMay 16, 2022
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I’ve never believed in life after death.

Or reincarnation for that matter.

Yet, I’m here to tell you I’m on my second, (well) maybe third life.

I have the same face, name and being. But everything, and I mean everything, has changed.

And no, this isn’t some confusing, uber spiritual rhetoric. I’m not talking rebirth or rebaptism. This is for anyone who feels stuck. Debilitatingly stuck.

It’s okay to start over.

Now before diving in, it’s important to acknowledge the privilege it takes to start over.

It’s not easy.

A single mother in an abusive relationship, a trans teen in a religious home, a student with buckling debt — these people would love to escape their realities and create new, thriving ones, but feel trapped.

So, as I speak from a perspective of having had an out — a single, narrow opportunity to terminate an old life and begin an entirely new one — I think about people who can’t. And at the end I want to offer some advice.

Because sometimes all you need is one person to believe your story.

Truthfully, some people go their whole lives thinking they only have one shot of getting things right. That if they go through a divorce, move to a new country, change careers, etc. that the logistics have to be perfect.

That if they mess up, their lives are over.

So, what if it is?

If you think your life is over, celebrate.

It’s interesting how we limit our experiences by the entirety of our lifespan instead of by the number of chances we get to start over.

“Your life isn’t over!” is something we parrot to our friends who have life interruptions. From minor inconveniences to really big, heart-breaking ones, like the death of a loved one.

We say, “Your life isn’t over!” But, what if it is? And what if that is a good thing?

Life as I knew it ended a little over a year ago.

And for the better part of a year I wallowed in self-pity. I mourned everything that went wrong. Cocooned by depression, I hadn’t realized the experiences that blooded me, the humiliation I’d endured, were of my own making.

This is true — simply because I stayed.

It sounds like victim-blaming. Until you realize that for some people the only way to get them to leave or to change is to show them that they can.

Taking responsibility vs. being accountable

I’ve shuffled therapists quite a lot over the past few years (3 to be exact). But my current showed how my lack of boundaries caused my demise. Even the ones that in retrospect, weren’t done by me.

Why? Because they were tolerated by me.

We only have to look at the Amber Heard/Johnny Depp debacle to understand that staying in bad situations, even for the “right” reasons can have irrevocable consequences.

Ask yourself the cost of staying. Now compare it to the cost of starting over. The choice is inevitably up to you. And sometimes the weight of creating a new life is not an easy one.

So, as my therapist and I waded through the laundry list of things that spurred a year of total shutdown on my mental, emotional and physical being I had to take accountability for staying and allowing myself to believe that I could make bad become good.

Bad can never become good.

I stopped asking for permission. You should too.

A little more than a year ago I was in a career that for reasons I probably will never discuss had sucked my soul entirely dry. I was living in a country I couldn’t call home. I replaced a bad relationship with worse ones, temporary ones.

It all came to a head when one friend told me they believed me when no one else did.

They saw me in my worse state — in tears, in shock, in pain, afraid and alone.

That friend gave me an out — a narrow window of opportunity to take a risk, pack all my belongings into one suitcase and never look back.

To those without the financial or emotional support system to start all over I encourage you to tell someone your story. The biggest surprise of all is that it might be stranger, an uber driver, someone on a bus.

If you think that your inner circle, your solar system of family and friends are incapable of rescuing you, I promise you someone beyond that space is waiting. But you have to tell your story in a space renowned for believing it.

I told no one I left

I moved and told no one where I was heading except for a handful of friends. It wasn’t because I wanted to be secretive. It was more so because I had no clue what I was doing.

The truth: no one knows what they’re doing

It would be great to relay all the juicy details and trauma for clickbait, but it doesn’t matter.

It doesn’t matter because whatever you can conjure my first life to be, I want you to replace it with yours.

The relationship you’re afraid to leave, the religion you’re scared to turn your back on, the country you want to move to where you don’t speak the language.

Your future beckons you.

Because they lied when they said we only have one life to live.

In fact, you have several iterations, and several tries over an unaccounted thread of time.

A year from now, your profession won’t match the one you’re degreed for. You won’t look the same. You may speak a totally different language.

Make it count.

Take the risk.

Look for your narrow window, then escape.