I Am Not Who I Used To Be

January 23, 2015

I like to reminisce. I don't like to dwell on the past but I like to remember it. The journey that you make through life can take you down an interesting path. It can be insightful to see where you've come from to fully appreciate who you are as a person now. Reflection is good. To live in the past is not.
Recently on Facebook there was this whole thing of posting your first profile picture. Don't ask why. Does Facebook ever need a reason for one of these silly tags? No. So when I was tagged by my sister-in-law I thought about ignoring it. I don't really use Facebook all that much anyway and these tags seem utterly pointless to me but curiosity got the better of me and I found myself clicking on my profile pictures album. I had to know what my first one was.

This stared back at me:
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This photo was taken at Edinburgh Zoo either in the Easter or summer of 2007. I would have been about 18 years old. That girl with the dorky half smile, sandwiched between my big sister and my now husband, is me. And yet, at the same time, she's not me at all.

When I look at her I see a version of me that has long since disappeared. First of all I (thankfully) no longer have a ridiculous attempt at a fringe that sits in my eyes instead of just above them. I don't have the desire to wear black eyeliner every single day in an attempt to look cool and edgy. I don't really know why I bothered.  It didn't work. In fact all it did was smudge and cause a rather fetching panda-esque look. Perfect for a trip to the zoo you may say.

However, it is more than just my poor choice lack of decent style that has changed over the years.  It seems almost implausible that we could be the same person. There are just so many differences between her and me, thousands of them.

Behind that dopey smile and the poor excuse for a fringe hides a thousand little insecurities. Some are about the way she looks or should look, others are about who she is as a person. There's a constant nagging feeling that she isn't good enough in just about every aspect of her life. She doesn't understand why she can't do normal things like go out with friends without having some sort of meltdown.

It takes her another seven years before she begins to realise that she's not just plain odd. Anxiety and insecurity are simply a part of who I am and I've come to terms with that. I have an understanding of what goes on inside my head and I know that it's not odd but simply medical. I've accepted it but it doesn't define me. Looking at her, I only wish she knew what I know now.

She thinks that she has her future all worked out; all these thoughts, hopes and dreams floating just on the horizon. She's wrong about almost all of them. Eight years down the line only two or three of them will still be what she wants, what I want. 

She has a vision of how her life should turn out that is vastly different from what I'm living. She imagines working hard, saving money, maybe having the odd holiday here and there with a little shopping spree thrown in once in a while for good measure. She believes that the friends she has when this photo is taken will be there forever. That career she has planned out? She doesn't even want it in eighteen months time. 

How could she have got it all so wrong?

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To be fair, she was just a child.  It isn't her fault. Life has a funny way of throwing some real curve balls at you and you'll change your mind about things more often than you need to pee. How was she to know what life would bring her way, let alone what she actually wanted from it? Even now, at the age of twenty-five, I struggle to know where I am headed or what I truly want. Why would an eighteen year old have figured that out?

To give credit where credit is due she did get some things right though. That boy sitting on her left was the best decision she ever made. I get to call him my husband because she put in a lot of work in laying the foundations of our relationship. She's right to believe that some things are forever and that he is just one of those things. It's something that we both firmly agree on, then and now.

We aren't the same person. The colossal differences are interspersed with slight similarities but the truth is I've changed. I've grown. I've realised that I don't need all the answers right now nor do I need to know what I'm doing with my life just because everyone else has figured it out. I don't need to worry if I'm cool or I fit in with whoever the "in-crowd" are. I can look in the mirror and overlook the flaws, focusing on the positives no matter how few and far between they seem. Nine times out of ten I'm happy just to be me, to have what I have and love those who love me too.

She's shy and introverted, anxious and awkward, and it bothers her. She spends far too much time worrying about what other people think of her, whether she is doing everything right, living up to other people's expectations. She internalises a lot of her anxieties, keeping secret the real things that swim in her mind at all hours of the day. Now I speak them far more freely. I'm more confident about who I am as a person. I try every day to embrace my quirks and flaws and I'm no longer afraid to speak my mind, to put myself out there.

She is never going to be who she wants to turn into. She's just going to be lumped with me. Whilst she might not know it yet, I'm okay with that - and she will be too.
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4 comments :

  1. I really liked this! It's sometimes nice to reminisce. I know I am definitely not the person 18 year old me thought I was going to be, but I'm glad about that! 18yr old me didn't know what she was talking about haha

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    1. Me too. I'm pretty happy with how I turned out - obviously 18 year old Debi was living in a fantasy world! Haha. Why do we expect 18 year olds to know what they want from life? They can't possibly know, right?!
      Debi x

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  2. Lovely blog post Debi. It was a great read. You and your husband are very cute! Sometimes I think I haven't changed at all, but when I see pictures of myself as a teenager and really think about how I was back then I realise than I'm almost a completely different person, in a good way! Its nice to know that we have improved and have gotten more confident etc. Sinead x

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    1. Aww, thank you :) Sometimes it can be surprising how much you've changed when you look back a few years at pictures and you barely recognise yourself any more! I still need to work on my confidence but I'm a million times more confident than teenage Debi!
      Debi x

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