The distinct chapters of our lives still only make up one story.

Ashley Chang
3 min readSep 17, 2023

I recently engaged in a conversation about the way in which we look at frameworks of life. I found it interesting, and the topic has stayed in the back of my mind as I moved throughout this week. I wasn’t quite satisfied with how I described my points, so here is my attempt to better explain myself.

There are several frameworks for how we think about our social, professional, etc. aspects of life. I have yet to encounter literature (though it’s probably out there!) or much conversation about this slightly more niche but relevant concept. It seems to me that there is a spectrum of segmented to continuous in how we view our lives, and as I go through different phases of life, I’ve been sliding down the spectrum.

Life as a series of loosely tied together segmented pieces

I used to think of the chapters of my life as very clearly segmented.

Summer break was so incredibly different than the school year, so much so that I myself felt like a different person who almost behaved differently. The school year was a time to work hard, and summers were a time to let loose and play hard. I applied this concept of very segmented life parts to many different changes.

This way of thinking may be perfectly great for some people, but it caused me to delay actions, make excuses, and forget the consequences of my bad decisions during periods before a so-called fresh start. It was especially bad for building healthy habits, fighting my toxic relationship with food and exercise, and more.

Seeing segments made my life unstable.

  • I’ll start my diet tomorrow. This loosely translates to “I can binge eat junk food today, so long as I eat healthy tomorrow and FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.”
  • Starting January 1st, [insert some absurd declaration of a new habit which will probably be lost within a few months].
  • I need to finish this project before I start [school/work/etc.] or else I’ll never be able to do this when I’m busier. *This point has some validity in some cases, but changes in our lives such as being busier aren’t usually as drastic of a change as I used to think.

Life as a continuous journey

These days, I don’t think of my life as segmented at all. The environment around me may be constantly changing, but it’s all part of the story. I am the center of the story, and the story just continues on with the changing environment around me.

Mental shifts:

  • I’ve found that I am the only one who will always face the consequences of the decisions I make today, tomorrow, and forever.
  • Change is gradual and doesn’t happen overnight. Day-to-day, week-to-week, or even month-to-month changes are typically not drastic or even noticeable.
  • I will always be the one living my life, no matter which phase or chapter of life I am in.
  • I can’t wait for some literal new start to make changes in my life. What am I waiting for?

Perhaps there are holes in this method of thinking, which I’ll be sure to scrutinize in a future post ;) but for now, these are some of the ways I’ve built a healthier system of going about building sustainable systems.

At the end of the day, the distinct chapters of our lives still only make up one story.

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Ashley Chang

22-year-old NYC-based software engineer | Writing about the life lessons I'm learning along the way.