I’ve heard time and time again that people don’t change. It’s always, “He’s a liar, she’s a thief, they’re crazy” followed by “People don’t change.” But think of yourself. Think of who you were as a child, then as a teenager, as you are now and then you think you will be. Do you really think people don’t change?
You’re wrong. People do change, all the time. A lot of the times it’s not in the way we’re looking for (and what we’re looking for is confirmation that they’re the same, everything else gets thrown to the wayside). When I think of the best people in my life, the smartest and most kind, I think of the ways they’ve changed. When I think of my mom during the time that I was a child, I think of a great mom but I also remember how tense she was and how closed off. Now I think of her as an open book, kind and welcoming to everyone she meets. When I think of one of my favorite college roommates I think of her as a party animal, ambitious but social to the extreme. Now that I speak to her as an adult, I see how steady she is, how focused. Her social interactions are now purposeful and have meaning.
I can’t describe how I was as a child. My dad always describes me as impish and unafraid, but what I remember being was watchful. I remember watching the people around me and feeling like I was different, like I couldn’t relate. That eventually came out in my personality, as it often does, in high school. It’s a mild version of a story you’ve heard before. I dyed my hair pink a few times, refused to wear a bra (I thought society was trying to hold me back.. in hindsight society was trying to hold me up.. literally), flirted with Wiccan ideas, and wore outfits that raised a lot of eyebrows. I wasn’t able to decide between punk rock and hippie and tried to alternate clothing styles between the two. Both were pretty pathetic attempts at expressions of personality. My coworkers who know me today find this surprising. Now I find that I come across as vegetarian (can’t anyone see the meat in my lunches!?), as straight forward (again a surprise for me), but also as someone who always does what they’re supposed to. And Alaskan boy and I always joke (but no, really) that if we’d met each other as high schoolers, there’s no way we’d have dated. I don’t think I would have given him the time of day and he probably would have mocked my crazy clothes and very different ideas.
No matter what, there are some things we’ll always carry with us. Some of these things are experiences. Once they’ve happened, they’ve imprinted on to ourselves and we’re forever changed. Some of these things are us, personality traits that never leave. For instance, while I feel ideas are meant to challenged, rules have always given me anxiety. I’ve loosened up a little over time but no food in the theatre means no food and deadlines are final. I’m always on time unless I really can’t help it and I’ll never show up at someone’s house without an offering of some kind. And with any luck, I’ll always be obsessed with books.
This is a fitting topic for the eve of my 28th birthday, the sort of time where you always take a step back and think about the past. Am I where I want to be in my career, in my personal goals? Do I feel good about myself? Did I accomplish anything in the last year? You know the drill. For once I’m so busy looking forward to the year ahead (marriage and a move- ah!) that I have trouble looking at the last year and all that’s happened. For once. Things have changed..