“The World According to Gaga,” a recent T Magazine interview with — surprise! — Lady Gaga, provides a brief snapshot of the 23-year-old performer’s devotion to her fans, how she feels about M.A.C. Cosmetics and her new role alongside Cyndi Lauper as the mouthpiece for the company’s VIVA Glam campaign, and, of course, a few third-person references to highlight just a slice of the eccentricity that’s helped skyrocket her notoriety.

Unless you care about any of that, or just like to keep up with what’s going on in the music industry, the interview probably won’t interest you much. I’m sharing it because Gaga’s response to why she chose to leave her past behind stuck out for me and I think it might resonate with some of you:

I left it behind because I had to. For many reasons, like drugs. It’s no secret that I have had problems with drugs in the past. And some places represent to me things in terms of my mental and physical health, so you learn to move on, to preserve what your mission in life is, and my greater mission is my fans.

Many of us have things — decisions, statements, events, entire time periods — from our pasts we look back on and wish we’d handled differently or hadn’t had to handle at all.

So, it’s not to difficult to see that actually leaving your past in the past isn’t entirely possible; after all, everything you’ve experienced, and how you reacted to those experiences, has helped create who you are today. You may go on to make better decisions and never find yourself in that situation again, but those past experiences are, in some way, permanently imprinted on you. You’ll always remember them.

Yet, what’s important isn’t so much whether or not you can leave your past behind entirely; rather, what’s important is the decision you make and the actions you take to make it and keep it your past — to change it from being your present and prevent it from becoming your future. What’s important is the ability to own your past, and look back on it without cringing so much that you’re unable to extract the lessons it can teach you. What’s important is your ability to envision a new future — or, “preserve what your mission in life is” — and your ability to use those lessons to achieve that mission.