Everything changes. People especially so.
The person I was at age 13 is very different from who I am today. This is normal; with time comes experience and growth and (hopefully) maturity.
Sometimes this freaks me out a bit, and I spend a few hours or days wondering about the meaning of identity, and how you can be friends with someone over a long period of time.
Lately however, I’ve been embracing it, and as a result I’ve been happier in the last few years than I’ve been before.
I had a friendship a few years ago that soured nastily as a direct result of some of my worst flaws. Jealousy, neediness, passive aggressiveness… it was really bad. As much as it hurt at the time, I’m glad it happened because, as obvious as those things were to others, I was actually clueless about them.
After the pain wore off a bit with time (and books!), I thought back to what had happened and started really seeing what I was like.
It was horrifying.
I think of most things in terms of narrative, and I was horrified to realise that if our friendship were a story I wouldn’t be the protagonist; I’d be the creepy person my friend had to deal with, that would make them relatable to a reader.
Shocking as that was, it was my first step towards being honest with myself.
From then on, I started seeing myself as I really was, and didn’t like a lot of what I saw. I felt pretty disgusted about myself for a while, but it didn’t take long to realise that was the problem.
That was when I devised my two-step plan for changing that.
The first thing I decided on was that I would work on loving myself. This meant understanding who I was, both good and bad, and making the effort to make my peace with it.
It sounds easy written down like that, but it was very difficult to start doing it. One of the things that helped the most was to really invest in alone time. I called it going on a date with myself. I would go out for ice cream with a book, get some tea and just think, or go the movies all by my lonesome.
It was a little weird at first, and I remember a friend laughing when I told her about it, but it worked. Just like spending time with a friend made them feel special, dedicating 10, 20 minutes to myself helped me feel better, and start to love myself.
I highly recommend it. Whether it’s turning off the radio on the drive home, or going for a 10-minute walk without earphones, finding that intimate time alone can work wonders.
The first step focused on accepting myself, but accepting something is not the same as approving of it. So, the second step I decided on centred on improving the parts of myself I didn’t like so much.
However difficult the first step was, this second step was even more of a struggle. It entailed complete honesty, and an unflinching look at myself.
This one has been slower to work through, since I have many blind spots, but the slow progress has been encouraging.
I’m still insecure sometimes, but I’ve learned how to appreciate myself. I am jealous and possessive, but have learned to force myself to not act on the neediness. Sometimes I start to react passive aggressively to something, but then catch myself and communicate directly.
I’m not perfect. I slip often, and sometimes have moments similar to the one I had years ago, when I realise I have been a horrible person to someone. However, with each one I learn more about the kind of person I am, and learn how to counteract the ones I dislike.
The best thing about this is that improving who I am as a person helps me to accept myself, so the first step gets easier as time goes on.
So, two steps to find happiness. They’re not easy in any sense of the word, but they’ve been working for me so far. If you don’t already, I recommend you give them a try.
Hope you’ve all had a great week. Things have been a bit tough lately, but what can you do. Happy Tuesday!