Monday, July 18, 2011

Owning who I am, who I was, and who I will become

A few weeks ago I was catching up with a close friend and she was telling me that after talking to her sister she was realizing how disconnected she felt. She said "I don't feel like I have a history anymore. It's just a little heartbreaking. I just feel like my life has no continuity. I don't want to claim anything I can remember some days. I think I disassociate myself from the disappointing aspects of my life." Specifically, she mentioned, times in high school when she felt she didn't have friends, or when a relationship in college suddenly spiraled to unhealthy and ultimate destruction.

I tried to be empathetic and understand where this friend was coming from. I've had similar experiences in my life; I did not want to remember times when I let myself down, or embarrassing moments, or hurtful relationships. Isn't it part of moving on, of getting closure? Forgetting who we were to make room for becoming someone new.

When I've had to move on from someone I've been close to (friend, flirt, boyfriend, whatever), the only effective way was to do my best to cut that person out. It's painful, it can drag on, I go through a whirlwind of blaming that person, feeling sad or angry, and hoping that someday it ends. And eventually, most of the time, it does end. That person is a distant thought that can be looked on with mild disinterest, the bad parts gone, glazed over, or just a joke. That association is gone.

But now, moving on from when we change, should we feel connected or disconnected? Relieved, or sad?

Who I was: When faced with the past I often bring my palm to my forehead. "Oh, GIRL." I exasperate. I was chubby, had a distinct style of long vests, peasant tops, and flowing skirts... oh and don't forget the combat boots. I didn't wear makeup and when I did, it usually wasn't where makeup should be worn. I had a crush on my best guy-friend who never saw me "that way." I read a lot of books (and still do), wrote stories about fantasy lands (not so much now), and was fiercely curious about the lives of the more popular girls. I loved to draw, and wanted to get a Bachelor's degree. I jumped off of cliffs. I loved roller coasters. I had never been to a concert. I was confident in being an individual, being different, yet painfully shy and unsure of everything that came out of my mouth.

Who I am: Today I am a little more streamlined. The hair is considerably shorter, make-up in consistent modest proportions, style over all is unique but classic. No more combat boots. I still have a thing for unrequited loves but now they seem to have gained some complexity. Best-guy-friends will always be the most attractive. I have switched from fantasy and classic literature to contemporary and creative non-fiction. I no longer care about the popular girls. I have a Bachelor’s degree. I cannot bring myself to jump off a cliff. I love roller coasters. I need at least three hands to keep track of the concerts I’ve been to. I’m confident in who I am, I’m excited for change, I’m an observer, I can be outgoing... sometimes.

Who I will be: I will have long hair again. I will jump off a bridge, or a cliff, maybe. I will write more. I will read more. I will run. I will volunteer. I will have a job I can enjoy. I will be me, but a better me. I will have a better sense of who exactly I want to become.

This is not a goal setting post. This is just a further explanation of who I am, whether this is read by anyone else than me doesn’t matter. I believe that to move on from ourselves we have to be okay with who we are, not change because we want to be different, but change because we want to be better. Stronger. More comfortable with ourselves.

Change takes sacrifice to become something better. Sometimes we lose things we once cherished for things we cherish more. We move on from parts of our lives, from memories, people even, to have more life experiences. I do not want to be stagnant. I will not be tied down to who I have been, and who I have failed to become.

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