The circles of life

Enya Eettickal, Staff Writer

As one of the youngest in my extended family, I’ve always spent a lot of time with family members who are much older than me. There’ve often been certain gaps in life experience that have left me at a loss for understanding what exactly they were talking about or going through. But as I’ve grown older and finally hit the phases of life that they’ve already undergone, I’ve started to understand some of my family’s discussions. Particularly, something that stuck with me was when my cousin said, “life is just a bunch of cycles.”
Naturally, my first reaction was to think that my cousin was trying way too hard to be “deep,” or maybe he was just crazy. But now that I’m in my fourth year of college, I’ve started to understand exactly what he meant. Life really is just a bunch of cycles. And the sooner you recognize the cycles you are stuck in, the sooner you can try to break that cycle or learn to manage your circumstances better. 

This concept is still relatively abstract, so I want to root my claim in more tangible examples. When I say “life is cyclical,” I mean that many experiences you’ve had thus far will show up again down the line, probably more than once. The circumstances you end up in, the roles you take on, the types of people you meet and the problems you face will continue to reappear throughout your life. 

So why does it matter? What about this is profound? Like I said earlier, my cousin’s statement didn’t mean much to me for a very long time. But when the feeling of déjà vu kept occurring, and the struggles I thought were behind me continued to show up with new names and slightly different characteristics, the circles in my life started to become more apparent. And after acknowledging the circles, the way I approached life shifted dramatically. 

Life being cyclical isn’t inherently a problem. However, it can be an issue if you don’t understand the trends relevant to your life, stunting growth or plateauing development. Dealing with the same problematic tendencies in friends or allowing yourself to perpetually fill an undesired role in groups can be exhausting and even maddening, to a degree. If you allow yourself to continue to be pulled around in the pre-existing cycles in your life, you won’t ever get to move forward. 

If you can figure out where the cycles are, the types of people and issues you run into, you can take control of the situation. Suppose you have a habit of finding friends with clashing personalities to your own and run into consistent problems because of it. In that case, you should push yourself to try and change the way you communicate and work around those personalities. If you can figure out how to navigate that dynamic early on, it’ll prepare you for when you have to do it later in life, should you run into a similar situation. 

This method goes for anything. If you’re stuck in a social position you dislike, don’t burden yourself with the unattainable expectations of said role. Instead, figure out your tendencies and weaknesses early on and address them then—because those struggles will likely manifest anew. 

The serial nature of life is both frustrating and absolutely fascinating. Witnessing the repetition of situations in your own existence is wonderful and mystifying. But the only way to guarantee you don’t end up stuck is by seeing it for what it truly is: A cycle. If this article does nothing more than open your eyes to the dispositions in your life, I’ll have considered it a success.