former selves

I was driving home from work today when it suddenly occurred to me how different I am compared to five years ago. Somewhere between my office and the freeway, I had a mental montage of the different versions of me that have come and gone through the years.

1997: Reluctant Cheerleader and All-Around Know-It-All

Yes. I was a cheerleader. I insist that I did it in order to win the student council presidential election (the team promised they would all vote for me if I joined them). Secretly, I’m a little proud of it. Also, it’s the only athletic-adjacent activity I can claim to have participated in.

I was also a straight-A, 4.0 average, full scholarship kind of student. I had my picture in the paper for having the best grades in my class, and I got loads of money for being one of the 15 smartest kids in my province. Now, I’m realizing how little that has to do with success, achievement, true happiness and fulfillment. But the medals make for good paperweights, and there are two bowl trophies in my garage that are dangerously close to becoming salad bowls.

2000-2001: Skater

How embarrassing. I used to walk around in WIDE leg pants, cropped shirts, and Skechers (I KNOW). I don’t know how I thought I could pull off that look. Firstly, I can’t skateboard for the life of me. Second, I’m 4’9″ wearing the widest leg jeans you could imagine. What a train wreck .

I also used to pass the time by choreographing hip hop music. Apparently, this was the year when I thought I could do anything.

2002-2004: Serial Long-Term Girlfriend

I wasn’t always smart and self-assured, you know. I used to date guys that were totally wrong for me, and I’d figure out ways to make it work against all odds. My friends would call these my “dark days”. I kept a lot of secrets, cried a lot, wrote angry love songs. Gained about 10 lbs. And then I got over it. The next chapter will explain.

2004-2006: Youth Missionary

Throughout my “dark days”, a change had been percolating. I guess it takes a certain amount of disaster before some people can figure out what they really love. I grew a really deep connection to my faith, and it became my passion and consummate life calling for two years. I got to travel parts of the world, talk about things I was passionate about, and basically live a life completely on fire for two whole years. To this day, these years were two of the best in my entire life.

2006-2009: Music and Fashion Blog Obssession

75% of the songs I’ve written in my whole life were composed within these years. A lot of them never even made it out my bedroom doors. Some of them are still lurking in abandoned Garageband tracks and wrinkled, half-filled journals.

I also became addicted to fashion blogs. I don’t know how it started. Suddenly, I found myself subscribed to a dozen fashion blogs and becoming increasingly girly. Definitely knocked the skater girl out of me, whoever that was.

2010-present: Rewriting

I got married and moved to Washington state. A lot of who I was had been sort of re-arranged…not entirely erased, just sort of displaced. Or misplaced. Or something. There was a time when I resisted the change, but now I’m sort of enjoying it as a time when I get to recreate myself. Like Madonna, minus the Botox and the burning crosses (see 2004-2006).

It’s funny how much we change throughout our lives, yet we basically stay the same. My husband has a childhood photo of me dressed in costume, posing in front of the camera, and he laughs every time he sees it because he says I haven’t changed a bit since I was four years old.

Maybe that’s how you gauge the depth of your relationship with another person. It’s when they can see you and know you, along with your history and all the passing phases of your life, and still they take one look at you and they know who you are.

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