I am not a poetry gal by any means. I love fiction and short stories and sometimes essays, but I am not drawn to the art that is poetry. Nevertheless I bring to you a Richard Siken quote – a first in my quote series. About change.
“How much can you change and get away with it, before you turn into someone else, before it’s some kind of murder?”Richard Siken
It’s easy to see change in an external sense. The shifting seasons. A new car and a new apartment. New friends in a new city. The graduations and new school programs. All around us things change, sometimes quicker than we can get used to it.
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It’s a lot more difficult to notice the internal changes. Those are more subtle.
I remember my college orientation. It was the tail end of July and in the blazing heat of the Virginia summer, students were packed in Old Cabell Hall – this huge auditorium/concert hall like room. Which would never happen today AT ALL. Our Dean gave us the advice to take a picture of ourselves as we were then. So I snapped a selfie. One by myself. And one with my roommate.
But who knew?
Who knew the person I was then would be so different from who I am now?
We collect memories and things and try new hobbies and join new clubs and meet different people. In the Vampire Diaries, Elena has this scene where she says *SPOILER ALERT* after becoming a vampire, she became a doppelganger of herself. We’re not meant to stay the same. So often I feel a lack of growth. I don’t see myself changing physically. Day in and day out (especially now), I find myself doing the same things with the same people. And don’t get me wrong. Routine is good. Growing deeper with people you already know is good.
But don’t miss opportunities for growth in your life.
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In comes my New Year’s Resolutions!
I know what you’re thinking. What the heck is she talking about? How does this change, this growth to where you are a completely different person, have anything to do with her New Year’s Resolutions? Well, dear friend, I’m sure glad you asked.
My many New Year’s resolutions – getting up at 7 am, exercising 3x, working on skincare, having a quiet time – require consistency. Where is she going with this now?
Think about it. We don’t just change because we tried that painting class that one time. Or go on a run once. Change is a continuous progression. It’s always moving.
This is where people get stuck.
You may feel like you can’t become all that you’ve wanted to be because you’re not progressing a lot. Or you don’t have the margin in their life to have these big, sweeping moments of intense change.
But that’s where you’re wrong.
Consider the 1% rule.
For example, every single night for the past 4 years, since I’ve gotten super consistent with my nightly journaling, I write 1 page in my journal. It’s not a whole novel. But I also don’t spend 4 months not writing in my journal. Every day, I write 1 page. It’s manageable because it’s small. It’s empowering because it’s a thing that you don’t need a lot of time to do.
All you have to do is move 1% closer to where you want to be.
You want to be a reader? Read a chapter before bed every night. You want to journal? Pick one prompt and write to it every morning. You want better skin? Research good products and day and night do your skincare routine. The 1% rule is very effective at getting you closer to the life you want – you just have to commit.
Back to this doppelganger we become of ourselves.
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Maybe it’s a little bit dark to say that we murder ourselves. That there’s a chipping away of the past to make way for the future in the present. It’s one of those things you never can realize in the moment. But only by looking back and examining the life you’ve lived can you tell how much you’ve changed.
Same with journaling. Every night, I sit down to write. Sometimes I know exactly what to say. Other times I’ll sit and ponder at a blank page. But without fail, over time I can look back and see the days of my life numbered by the pages I have filled.
My journaling has documented some of that transition from my past self to the present me. There are so many people who no longer hold a place in my life the way they once did. I grieve that. And that grief returns often. As we grow older, we catalog these absences of people we used to know, used to love. We are left with memories and faded words of their importance to us. There are so many ideals that have shifted for me. I am no longer someone who values a traditional path of success. That path isn’t for everyone, and I strongly suspect it isn’t for me.
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There are many questions I ponder – some have changed over time and some have stayed the same. My taste in music, though, is probably the most stable thing about me. I can totally bop to all the songs my 15 year old self loved! *Gasp* Does this mean I haven’t evolved in my music taste?
My 15 year self and my 20 year look really similar. We are the same height and share a lot of the same characteristics: love for Paramore, too many books for our bookshelves, a collection of words that won’t quit, a deep affection for the color blue and hugs (just not during the time of COVID – please send me virtual hugs, I need them!). But her and I are so different. Different priorities, different values, different friends, different visions for the future.
I don’t think it’s inherently bad to be so different from your past self. But it also doesn’t have to be so big either. I think our own internal change is a subtle way of watching the world shift – and in that change, we hopefully become people we’ve aspired to be all along.