Saturday, June 18, 2016

On the Idea of Change


I can't stop staring at the mirror. 

It's not a vanity thing. It's more of a "holy shit, have I actually changed that much?" kind of thing. I'm holding up a picture of myself, my senior picture that my ma took for me and it just looks...weird. Different. I don't know. 

It's not so much that I look different, although i do. The last of the baby fat has melted off (still got cute cheeks though), the amount of makeup plastered on my face has severely diminished (thank you self confidence/not giving a fuck), and I've collected a couple laugh lines that didn't used to be there (the only wrinkles I'll ever be glad to see). But it's not just my looks. I'm not that girl anymore; the girl working through losing her first love, trying to wrap her head around graduating high school, and who had only ever called a single place home her entire life. All of that is still a part of me, but only in the sense that those things slowly, step by step, turned me into the person I am today--just like the things that feel integral to me at this moment will lead me to the person I'll be next. 

It sounds a little schizophrenic when I put it that way; all the different me's lining up in my head. But I think we all have different versions of ourselves running around that come out in different situations and different times. We are constantly changing, because change is impossible to avoid. We all know someone who falls into the group who follow the mantra of "people don't change". I have a theory about them: anyone who believes that people don't change are just bitter that the changes in their own lives haven't been positive. Ha, bet that went down well with some of you *sarcasm*. TV shows and movies and books all tell us that change is for the better. The nerdy girl takes off her glasses and lets her hair down, Queen Latifah learns to live boldly and not be so insecure, that asshole realizes he needs to be nice. Boom. Happy ending. Good changes galore! 

As always, that's not how it works in real life. I think every decision we make alters who we are a little, making us either a better or worse person. All those little decisions add up, and sometimes we don't like what the product we see. We only think of change as big, sweeping gestures of people who hit rock bottom, realize they don't want to live this life, and shift in monumental ways. And don't get me wrong, that happens. It's good to pay attention to these big changes, but more important to focus on the little changes throughout the day. At my age, the little decisions make a hell of a lot more impact than they would if I were older, and they made an even bigger impact when I was a teenager. As fun as it is to think about grades *more sarcasm* that's the best way I can make sense of it: early in the semester every paper you turn in can shift your grade up or down an entire letter. But once all those scores are added up at the end of the year, it's harder for a single score to make a noticeable difference. Key word there: noticeable. Of course these decisions later in life still matter, it's just a little harder to see the difference they make when they're compared with every decision you've made your entire life. 

I hope everyone reading this can be proud of the decisions that make up who they are. And if you don't, I hope you can turn it around today. As my (awesome and slightly snobby) friend James likes to pontificate: I just try to better than who I was yesterday. Boom. Knowledge bomb. Thanks James. 

-E.B