Start Over

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I wanted so desperately to become someone other than who I had been that I lost myself entirely in the search…

It occurred to me about halfway through my senior year of high school and was one of the key factors that allowed me to keep my sanity for the final stretch to graduation.  Not only would I be free of my home town and the people there, the bad memories and the tormentors, but I would be free to reinvent myself however I wanted when I stepped onto my college campus.  Nobody would know me.  Nobody would know the rumors that had swirled around me in high school.  Nobody would know if I was acting out of character…

I could be whoever I wanted to be and it would seem normal to the new people around me.

The process started at orientation, where I forced myself to be confident bordering on arrogant with a trumped up esteem that I was sure seemed genuine though I knew how false it felt.  I wasn’t shy.  I wasn’t quiet.  I voiced my opinions and engaged in vibrant conversations.  I openly asked for phone numbers and email addresses for the people I connected with.

And then I went home to wait out the remaining long weeks before I could return to school and return to this journey of becoming someone new.

I was nervous that I would be discovered as a fraud but those worries were unnecessary.  I returned to campus and seamlessly picked up where I had left off.  Engaging others rather than being shy and reclusive.  Trying new things rather than sticking to the safety of the hobbies I’d had at home.  However, at the same time, parts of my true self started to fade away.  I began hiding the parts of me I thought others wouldn’t like.  I did things, calculated choices and risks, to keep my popularity high.

I had never been popular before and I didn’t want that feeling to stop.

Then my roommate, a very charismatic and gregarious personality, started sharing stories of the fun he was having at raves.  I grew up on classic rock but hadn’t yet found something to go with this new identity I had created, and so I thought I could give this electronic music stuff a chance and see what it was all about.  Oh, and there were drugs there too.  I’d been too timid to try anything while living under my parents’ rule to try anything like that at home.

I tagged along to the next party he went to and the adventure of becoming someone new spiraled into a new direction.

It was fun.  It was a lot of fun.  While chaotic at times, the years that followed were the antithesis of my high school years.  I enjoyed myself.  I had friends.  I wasn’t bullied or made fun of.  I partied.  I had less stress and anxiety.  I spoke my mind, though more and more what I spoke wasn’t really my mind but what I thought people wanted to hear as the person I was supposed to be slowly disappeared.  My fake identity was washing away my hidden truths.

Until, one day after college, I was forced to really look at who I had become and I no longer recognized the reflection, I didn’t like what I saw, and a new quest began to figure out who I was, rather than who I thought people wanted me to be.

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19 thoughts on “Start Over

  1. Who we were and who we want to be are as much a part of the journey as who we are. I think who we are changes along the way. Now that you know you can be popular you can express more true opinions without the fear of losing that popularity. I reinvented myself when I changed my name. But instead of throwing out all of the old, I kept the parts I liked and got rid of the parts I did not like. It was hard at first, but it felt like a new beginning and it was. I became who I wanted to be, and what I learned was that a lot, if not all, of who I wanted to be was already there. It just wasn’t nurtured. What we nurture is what grows. Sometimes a change of venue is necessary to nurture the parts of ourselves that have not been nurtured. Sometimes we are smart enough to know that our environment and circumstance holds us back. I would venture to say that whatever you feel is lost, is still there, it just needs a little nurturing. 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Thank you for posting your article here. It’s a great self-reflection! As we grow we change, and sometimes it’s really uncomfortable because the “old” and “new” versions of ourselves, or our stories, feel like they begin to clash, and eventually we cannot recognize ourselves because our self-identity is in flux. I’ve gone through so many “identity” changes, community changes, moves; and in my life, rarely has anyone ever said to me, “you’ve changed!” They always see me as they see me, and it’s not really anything that I’m even aware of. I get mail that says, “you are a good friend” when I haven’t talked to a person in ages, and in my own opinion of myself, I wasn’t really being a ‘top notch’ friend, because I was deep in my own changing-process! Going easy on yourself through the changes, it makes all the difference.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s a great point – we often aren’t seen by others as we see ourselves – in your example someone thought you were being a good friend when you didn’t necessarily agree. We can only see our ever changing selves through our own eyes… which makes feedback from people we love and trust even more important.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Growing and changing is a part of life. Especially if we really don’t like who we are. I did pretty much the same. Except I didn’t go to college to change. I moved to another state and became ‘popular’. I too enjoyed it. But, essentially I’m not a party girl. So I kept the best things of who I was before and who I was then and left the rest in a heap on the floor. I find many years later I’m still changing. I enjoy changing into a better person, I hope. Makes life always interesting. Keep changing, keep growing, keep learning about yourself and what you need to make you happy. Keep an open mind….and an open heart.

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  4. It takes a lot of guts to share something like this, friend & I commend you for it. You do a lot of good in this world now & that’s all that matters.

    Out of friendly curiousity, I would ask have you found yourself now? Do you feel that way at least? But I certainly wouldn’t expect you to answer here. That’s what email is for.
    I do know that you certainly have helped so many of us over this past year, though. & I will never forget that. ❤ 🙂 If that's not a purpose… ❤

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Wow – I could have read this all day and wished you’d written more. Your words delve into the psyche of us all. Strangely enough when we behave the way we think others will like us we tend to lose our real selves. This is the thing I like most about getting older. You either like me or you don’t – because I’m me and refuse to be anything other than me. I’d hate to be back (in my mindset) in those young days again where I did things to be popular and not because it was something I really wanted to do.
    Also, the beginning of your post reminded me of Paulo Coelho “The Alchemist” where the boy leaves home to find himself but realizes that you don’t have to leave your own backyard to find your real self.

    xxx

    Liked by 3 people

    • I’m not familiar with “The Alchemist” – I’ve added it to my list. Sounds like I’ll definitely connect with it.
      And, funny – when I got down with the post I couldn’t believe how short it was. When I started I assumed it was going to be a 1,000 words at least. But, the words flowed … and then they were done. This was just the beginning of the story though… and maybe I’ll post the rest eventually.

      Like

  6. Sometimes we have to do seemingly stupid or out of character stuff to learn from our mistakes. It’s only really stupid if we don’t learn from the experience.

    Sir Jester, you have learned much and will teach much. (And now I unintentionally sound like a Jedi master or something.)

    Liked by 1 person

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