Recently, I was told, “You aren’t the same person you used to be” — and it certainly wasn’t said as a compliment. The words hit me like a metaphorical punch to the gut… or ego, I guess. I was absolutely horrified and offended at being told that I was so different because I knew it was being implied that I had changed in a negative way. My initial reaction was not unlike my children when they were younger, getting hurt by someone saying they didn’t want to be friends with them. I mean, are we supposed to be elated when someone essentially tells us they don’t like who we are as a person?
My horror at being told that I had changed pushed me to tell the other person that it was the most hurtful thing they had ever said to me. I felt like at my core, I was still very much the same person I always was. Either way, this conversation pushed me to do some personal reflection, and what I discovered changed the way I think about myself.
Once the initial shock wore off, I went through various stages: denial, anger, cookie dough, dance party, crying, humor, and finally, acceptance. I thought about all of the things that I have gone through during the time since I first met this person over 10 years ago. I’m not talking about minor everyday things — the big sh*t, the really hard times that pushed me to grow, the moments that are forever seared into my memory because they are life-altering events. I birthed children, I experienced loss, I grew into my role as a mother, I decided I needed to find my passion, I went back to school (twice), I began working full time, I dealt with health issues, I was diagnosed with ADHD finally, I gained weight and lost confidence, I lost weight and found my confidence again, I graduated college and checked off personal goals, I challenged myself in ways I never dreamed, and then I watched myself accomplish what I set my mind to.
How could I possibly go through all of that and not change in the slightest? I would be more concerned if I had all these life experiences and didn’t change — didn’t grow, didn’t adapt, didn’t evolve. The fact of the matter is, that person was right. I am not the same person I was when they met me at 21. She was a young girl and naïve. She was scared if I’m being honest — so unsure of herself as a single mom. But the woman I am today? She is strong. She has been tested again and again and overcame everything she encountered. She has learned to trust herself, she’s learned how to both ask for help when needed and how to handle things by herself instead of defaulting to whatever someone else wants. She is growing and changing and will continue to do so. But no matter what, at her core, she has a heart that is more often than not far too big, and she wants to pour love into everyone around her. And she just wants to be loved. That part of her hasn’t changed one bit.