This is a Dr. Phil blog post so eat it.
When I was a kid all I ever wanted was to be the same as everyone else. As I grew I realized that as much as I tried to blend in, the more I seemed to stand out. It was always something; Too skinny, too foul-mouthed, to sarcastic, too dark, too nerdy or too proud. Every milestone in my life had lead to a realization that I was never going to fit into a norm where no cookie cutter or stereotype would hold me; I was in essence a mosaic of mismatched puzzle pieces from several awesome puzzles that would never quite make sense in the context of my life.
When I was growing, several conversations slapped reality in my face. My gym teacher told me I had a dancer’s neck. I learned that meant I had a long neck; freakishly long. I’ve been told my eyes were huge and look like snake or cat eyes; either one may be a metaphor for something I probably won’t enjoy knowing. I was called anorexic for about 5 years at the pinnacle of my adolescence; later figuring out that looking like Skeletor wasn’t sexy. Not that I could do anything about it, my fast metabolism was fixed to my DNA like a handprint in a suburban sidewalk. Being Irish I never tanned, and practically being an Albino in the summer time is the worst thing possible. I remember I would hate the summer because of it- loathe it - I would wear long pants and shirts and never go outside and everyone would think I was weird or a troll.
As you get older, you learn that the things that set you apart, the things you hated about yourself, are the same things you revel in when you’re an adult; suddenly the things you wished away are the same things you love now.
It’s funny how the life plans you make earlier in life, when looked back upon, make you laugh out loud. Different relationship plans, career goal and aspirations, school and education… All these things have evolved and changed, and your views on things continue to change as you grow even still. They say every 7 years your life you go through a dramatic change of how you see certain things. Every 7 years the bulk of your friends change, the view on your career may change, and maybe you changed the view you had on marriage or family.
7 years ago I was 17; I had great friends, a great outlook on life, and a high turnover dating life. I had moral grey areas and sometimes an annoying level of over confidence. I like to contribute this to being a teenage and not so much my personality as a whole, of who I was.
Ironically now, I have almost none of the same friends, my views on education and career did a 180, and I’ve settled into a relationship. Sometimes I look back on things I’ve done at 17 with envy; the confidence in myself, the unwavering knowledge of who I was as a person, and the drive to do what was fun and not what was always right. There seems to always be a struggle between what we want and what we should have, what we have and what we want, and what we should want and what we don’t want anymore. Sometimes we feel like we owe it to ourselves; we justify our wants with our history, and who we were – discounting who we are now and the choices we’ve made to get us here.
Looking back, it’s scary to think that the person I was at 17 ceases to exist, and as much as I'm the same person, that “17 me” will never come back, as my views and life experiences have shaped who I have become. Recently I questioned myself on how I could get back, how I could try to open myself up to the possibility that maybe 17 year old me, was the real me and with the influx of life crap and jaded experiences I’ve turned into someone who doesn’t take risks or stop to smell the roses. It’s hard to pinpoint the moment you change from who you loved being, to who you don’t, and sometimes it’s hard to remember how to go back.
All I know is that as we age, we take comfort in things we maybe never thought we would; staying in on Friday night watching an old movie, or going out and dancing. Our lives are always in motion, our views are continually changing and if we open ourselves up to the possibility that in some way, who we are now is a direct correlation to who we were then, is it still scary? Maybe we’re not different people but a progression of who we’re going to be. Maybe I’ll get back to the 17 year old me later in life when I'm ready to be her. It’s possibly I'm not ready to evolve into my past, just quite yet.
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