Recently Reddit user u/Lionoxer posed a quite philosophical question to other users: "Confucius once said, 'We all have two lives, the second one starts when you realize you only have one.' When and why did your second life begin?"
Users submitted loads of personal experiences that made them stop taking their life for granted, and, honestly, just reading the thread was an emotional journey. Here are the best ones:
1. Getting sober.
"At 19, I got clean from all substances. I used lived a life that no kid ever should. I was homeless, used my money to buy dope instead of food, and tried to kill myself more times then I could count. But six years later, I'm 25, own my own place, been at this job for five years and my life did a total 180."
2. Going through a bad breakup.
"Three months ago, I went through a bad breakup and I had already been miserable with my life. I started over completely. I sold my house, quit my job, and moved me and my puppy to the coast! I was over waiting for my dreams to come true and decided to take control of my life."
3. Having a near death experience.
"I fell 30 feet from a bridge into the creek below. 911 was dialed six hours later by an early morning jogger who saw me. After two and a half weeks in an unresponsive coma and months of therapy, my perspective has changed. I'm getting back to being a valuable contributor to society again."
4. Thinking they were about to die.
"I was in Honolulu, Hawaii with my fiancé during the false alarm ballistic missile strike. It took way too long for them let people know it was a false alarm. We were so shaken up, I decided that I would request three months off work for my honeymoon instead of two weeks. We traveled a lot and remembered how important family is compared to work."
5. Losing a pet.
"My first dog passed away unexpectedly for unknown reasons. The grieving process and the realization of just how beautiful her life was changed me from a busy workaholic to someone who spends as much time with friends and family as possible."
6. Holding their child for the first time.
"My second life began when I was holding my baby for the first time. I used to think If something ever happened to me it was no big deal and I'll just be missed by friends. Now I'm responsible for someone who I'll need to be alive for."
7. Getting into a new relationship.
"I was very depressed and could not cope with a lot of the stress in my life. But then I met my significant other about two and half years ago. He showed me an acceptance and love that changed and saved my life. He helped me with my anxiety and depression and now we are now engaged."
8. Quitting their job.
"I quit my job of four years that I started at as in intern in grad school. I got offered the chance to work in an entirely different field, and my old job felt like I had been treading water for the past year. It’s thrilling and honestly terrifying. I was really passionate about my old job, but I slowly felt that I couldn't keep doing it."
9. Losing a finger.
"I had a woodworking accident just over two years ago. It wasn't huge, but I lost my left index finger and it kind of punched me in the gut. It made me realize I'm not invincible."
10. Not following the traditional rules of their religion.
"My second life began when I finally allowed myself to say that the bible is wrong. I was a 30-year-old virgin who was saving myself for marriage and dating only 'good Christian men'. But then, I gave myself permission to do whatever made me happy. I met and fell in love with my wonderful, atheist husband. We have a beautiful 10-month-old daughter, a happy home, and peace that I've never known before."
11. Graduating high school.
"When I graduated high school, I realized I had no skills, no interesting hobbies, nothing interesting about myself, and that it was no wonder I struggled so much with dating. I spent the last few years changing that."
12. Finding a new passion.
"I made a kind of half-assed New Year's resolution to run a 5k this year just to prove to my spouse that I could do it. On April 3, 2019, I finally forced myself to get out and run and train for a June 5k race. Since then it has snowballed. I've completed seven 5k's and I have a 10k race coming up this month, a winter series spanning from November to March, and I registered for a half marathon in September 2020. When everything else in life is going to shit, either with work or other personal stuff, I have this amazing second life where I'm in control of the outcome and I can make it as great as I want it to be."
13. Going to school for their passion.
"I had a conversation with my dad about winning the lottery. He asked me if I would go to film school if money wasn’t an issue. I, of course, answered affirmatively. He told me to go for it. So I fucking did. Here I am in my first semester as a film student, living the life I want to. Life is good right now and I’m not making compromises."
14. Finding religion.
"My life wasn't going anywhere until I started believing in Jesus. Once I did that my whole existence took a 180° turn. Thanks to that, I have participated in multiple charity events, I picked up music and music composition, and most importantly, I was able to learn how to talk to people like a normal human being. Before that I was unbearably shy, and I would just avoid being social at all costs."
15. Going through a quarter-life crisis.
"I guess I started my second life when I got out of my age 20 funk. Prior to that I had never thought past that age. I spent a long time stuck in a 'now what?' phase trying to not have an existential crisis. Eventually, I went to college, got a degree and now I work in the field I studied for. I battled depression, found some of the things I was looking for in life, and realized what I wanted to get out of it."
16. Getting help for their mental health.
"I used to think that life just sucked for everyone and the 'trick' was to fake your way through it. I lived where every moment of happiness was weighed down by an ever present depression and lack of self esteem. It took a bit, but after talking with a counselor once a week for a few months, being referred to a psychiatrist with initial diagnosis, and working with my psychiatrist to find medicines that work, I finally feel what I can only assume is normal. I wake up most days with an underlying happiness that's never been there before. Moments with my kids are not darkened by thoughts that I don't deserve them or that they wouldn't love me if they knew me."
17. Seeing a loved one almost die.
"A few months ago, my mother fell down the stairs at 2 in the morning. We were home alone and she wasn't responding and I called an ambulance. She's fine now, but the thought of losing her shook me so much that I decided to turn my life around. I only have one and need to do as much as possible with it. I came out as bi, starting eating healthier, and focused on school a lot more. Life has been going a lot better since then."
Submissions have been edited for lengths and/or clarity.