Have I always been this person that I look at in the mirror this morning?
I do not recognize my face at times and I cannot fathom how I got to this point. There have been so many different versions of myself over the years that it is hard for me to keep track of them all and how one lead into another. They were over dramatized and a shield of an image that I would hide behind until my mind could catch up with my restless spirit. And while each one served its purpose at any given time in my young life, I chose them each carefully and strategically to meet what I needed at the time. I was never one for drama, but I was one to stay committed to a mission and execute it the best it can be executed — and that was the case with each of my dreamed up personas.
How did I get here, to this version of myself?
It has taken years of growth and countless trials to push and pull me towards where I stand today. I have memories of being a painfully shy and mute child, and I have a clear memory of deciding to change that about myself. I remember only talking to those I trusted and only showing my true colors to those who worked to see them. I remember it being driven by fear not hate of others. I remember being ashamed of how quiet I was and choosing to change it no matter what I had to go through. I remember the crushing anxiety that I did not know was anxiety at the time and the overwhelming fear of approaching conversation with others. I remember being told to speak up more often and be less of a scaredy-cat. But I also remember enjoying my quiet nature and the conversations with my imaginary friends. I remember finding peace in seeing the world through quiet eyes and a sealed mouth, and enjoying keeping secrets with myself. Then I remember changing it all completely in fifth grade and being determined to speak up more. I remember being terrified of rape because I was a quiet, good looking adolescent and I remember others warning me that one day my quiet nature would be taken advantage of by a man. I remember fearing not speaking out, more than speaking out itself and I remember choosing the less of two evils to work through. I remember establishing my independence and telling others and myself that I could do it all alone. I remember watching others carefully an observing the way they interacted with the world in order to mimic their actions in the future. I remember teaching myself to be bold and speak out even when it was not my first instinct. I remember gathering all the courage I had in order to open my mouth in public and I remember the crushing self-awareness with every word that I spoke. I remember over thinking everything that I was about to say and I remember rehearsing it over and over in my head until I thought I had it perfected enough to be shared with the world. I then moved on to being so busy that I did not have time to contemplate what image I was projecting. I embraced being a nerd and doing well with everything I touched and striving to make up for the obvious faults that I faced in the mirror every day. I built a reputation for myself as a “smart kid” and held onto it desperately in order to mask the fact that I was actually just a shy person. I accepted the friends who gravitated towards me and relied on them in order to help me get by. I chose friends who were bolder and louder, ones who would distract others from my mute state. And then I started to believe that I was actually one of them. I started doing everything they did and people started believing that I was like them. And then I remember being introduced to intoxicants. I remember the feeling of social liberation with my first sip of vodka and I remember the anxiety involuntarily melting away without me having to make the conscious decision to do so. I remember loving what alcohol did for my personality and I remember other people loving its affects on me too. I remember being a hit at parties and the center of every smoking circle I entered. I remember embracing this version of myself too completely and incorporating it into my every day. I remember allowing my social status to out weigh the value I placed on my carefully crafted image of success, and fully embracing the party person that I had grown to be known as. I remember feeling like a member of the elite party in college because I could drink half a bottle of Jameson in one night and smoke constantly without visible affect. I remember being proud of operating in an emotionless state and bragging about the shit show that I became. And then I remember the day that I realized that that version of myself was killing me slowly and it was not who I truly wanted to be. I made the decision to move on once again and I became the version of myself that stopped drinking and attempted to live healthier. I attempted to go back to the version of myself that I knew in high school, but I could not make it work. Too much had happened for me to just go back to who I used to be before intoxication and I could not expect me to snap back. So I have become who I am today. But the real question is, who is that anyway?
Who do I think I am now?
I have accepted that I cannot go backwards in life and I accept that I can only change my future not my past. I accept that I am who I am, and that any given moment I will not recognize who that is. I change every day and I cannot stop it, and I never want to. I can define certain periods of my life with the actions I took and the thoughts I shared, but I know that there was never any beginning or end to who I was and who I am becoming. There is no clear break while progressing through this world and there is no clear path for me to take to get to greener fields. I have to trust that I will change and adapt as I go through life, and that I can never predict who I might become due to influences outside of my control. I can make my own decisions and choose what I want to pursue in life, but I cannot control everything that enters my realm and influences me in ways that I could never predict. I don’t know exactly who I am now, but I know that only I know the truth at my heart and that the image I project to others can be deceiving. I don’t trust mirrors and I never have, because they only reflect back what is on the outside and I have never identified with that girl that I see. I do not know what I look like in my own skin, but I know what I look like through my mind’s eye and I know that that is truth I am pursuing. Maybe one day my mind and body can reflect an image of myself that I recognize, but for now I will accept myself to be a stranger in the mirror every morning, and the best friend I consult in my own mind every evening.