The world is full of people trying to reclaim their youth with fast cars, miracle pills, hair plugs, and trophy wives. The question is why? Yes, I know all about the aches and pains of middle age. Believe me, I know. That aside, why would anyone ever want to be young and dumb again?

Wait, I bet they’re trying to resurrect their passion for life. The blind faith and optimism of youth. The thrill of discovering things for the first time. The inspiration of unbridled imagination. The chance to return to a time before all their hopes and dreams were squashed by cold hard reality.

The problem is, you can’t go back. And trying to with superficial stuff will just make you sad and depressed. Besides, the problem isn’t external, it’s internal.

If you think you need to go back, that means you’re not happy with who you are or where life has taken you. It means things didn’t work out the way you expected or planned. Or maybe there were some choices you made that you’d do differently if you had a second chance.

And since you can’t go back, you’re stuck.

To get unstuck, you have to own your situation and everything that led up to it. Make peace with the past. Any anger, resentment or jealousy you feel toward anyone, fess up and face it. Once you do, then you can let it go. But only if you face it. Trying to bury it won’t work. That’s what got you stuck in the first place.

Rather, you have to face it and realize what a complete bunch of BS it is. This may be hard to hear, but you have no right to wish for anything to have turned out differently. It was your life to make and this is what you made of it. You alone are accountable. If you want a better future, you first have to own your past.

Bad things happen to all of us, but happiness and fulfillment only come to those who pick themselves up, dust themselves off, learn from their mistakes – that’s right, their mistakes – and try again. And again. And again. I’ve done that countless times, but I’ve never looked back and wondered “What if?” It’s a fool’s question.

The reality is that you left the land of your past far behind. You’ve sailed across the waters of time and now you’re here. Like it or not, the boats that got you here no longer exist. You may fantasize that they’re still there, but that’s only in your head. They’re long gone. Time to let go of the fantasy and burn the boats.

You’re actually in far better shape to face the uncertainties of life than when you were young. You’re much smarter now. More experienced. You’re battle tested. And you live here, in the present.

If the unknown scares you, guess what? That’s what it means to be young again. Congratulations; you’ve just found your fountain of youth.

A version of this first appeared on

Image credit Vladimir Pustovit Flickr