There are many times when I look back on the past few years and feel like I’ve made no progress in certain areas. It’s discouraging to work so hard for so long, fighting through tears and doubts, just to come back to the same point again. But the one thing I have to remind myself of is how much the little wins can add up to. Tiny accomplishments- doing laundry regularly, spending 5 hours watching Netflix instead of 10, reading for just 20 minutes after not picking up a book in months- can sometimes lead to lifestyle changes without me even realizing it. Then there are the wins that aren’t seen unless you look closely at yourself and compare who you were to who you are now.
I look back on the experiences I had whether they’re with work, people, or just myself and see so much growth in the way I felt back then compared to now. The last book I read (entirely), The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout, brought back so many memories of my anxiety, self consciousness, and fear. Although the main character suffers from all of these because of totally different reasons, it was comforting to know that I wasn’t overreacting in the past and sometimes today.
Finishing my degree and choosing a career is one of the hardest journeys I’m on… but that is just one part of the bigger and tougher journey of discovering and growing into the woman I am today. One reminiscence that occurs whenever I think about my age and where I am in life is about just that- where I thought I’d be in life by the time I was in my twenties. When I was younger, I used dream about the things I’d have and where I’d be working. It changed in specificity, but the outline was always the same: I’d have a car, a job doing something “business-y”, and I’d be on my way to moving into my own apartment (notice how no relationships are involved in that plan… funny now that I think about it). I always was concerned about what I’d have and where I’d be, but never worried about how I’d feel and what I’d like. I guess that’s something a lot of kids go through because we’re told that we have to be successful and success is mainly based on our education, jobs, etc…. but that’s not the point of this post.
I never really had traditional hobbies. Aside from my barbie dolls and Britney Spears CDs, I wasn’t really interested in anything besides computers- growing up in the 90s/00s was the beginning of a new technological era, and I abused the shit out of it. I spent a lot of time on fanfiction websites, playing RPG games, and talking to cousins and strangers in chatrooms (the first set of friends I made and lost where in an AOL chatroom of people I followed on Xanga). While most preteens were watching TV and hanging out with friends from school, I was running home to jump on our shared computer to mine adamantite ore on RuneScape and talk to my cousins on AIM.
A big regret I have is not taking a serious interest in some of the things I liked, even if they sounded lame and boring. Hobbies are something that helped shape me into who I am today. Writing was always something I enjoyed, but only until my late teens/early twenties did I consider it something serious. Even then I found myself debating on whether or not it counted as a hobby because I wasn’t as dedicated to it. I recently realized how much writing has helped me when it comes to stress and making decisions. Writing as much as a paragraph or an idea has calmed my nerves or brought things into perspective for me about so many things.
Reading and writing opened so many doors to other interests; art, makeup, the love of NYC. But my curiosity about all these things would have never grown if I didn’t leave my house and experience the things I thought I wanted. The heartbreaks (from lovers and family) and the disappointment (from people and life itself) taught me so many lessons about life and myself that no one could have taught me about.
Living life the way I saw everyone else around me living it was an eye opener to my actual desires. Being controlled by a man because I was blinded by my need for love and attention was what set it all in motion. It took a long 4 years for me to break free, and when I did it was like the biggest weight was lifted off from me. I felt so free like a bird that I got two of them tattooed- which is a reason I never admitted to until now.
I was verbally abused next- but this is something I am thankful for. Being disrespected, manipulated, and insulted never made me feel more confident. I walked away from that relationship bruised, but those bruises healed and then glowed. I had never felt more alive and confident in my skin before.
There was disappointment, too. The heartbreak that people hardly ever talk about, because they only believe a lover can do such a thing. They also never warn you that this heartbreak is forever and constant- maybe until the day the heartbreaker dies. But that’s also not the point of this post. Being disappointed over and over again by someone so close to me has only strengthened my independence and lowered my need to depend on someone.
Someone told me recently that I pay attention a lot, which is a nice confirmation of something I always knew about myself. I’ve always looked closely at everything; the way someone looks, the way they say things, or the way they act in different situations. I pay attention to some details that others usually overlook. As much as I pay attention to other people, I pay attention to myself as well. I constantly try to analyze why I do the things I do, why I get nervous in situations, or why I get emotional over things that aren’t that serious. A lot of times I regret not being this meticulous about myself earlier on in life because I could have avoided so many failures and fall outs.
Nonetheless, I’m content with who I am and the path I’m on mentally. I’m happy that I’m confident, even if I still get nervous once in a while. I’m happy that I know what I want, even if I’m nowhere near getting it. I’m happy that I can change whatever I’m not happy about, even if I have to figure out if its part of who I am naturally or a bad habit.
I’ve never written a post like this before but I think that shows how hidden this growth is. I tend to let all my sadness out in writing. Whenever I feel like beating myself up, I do so by writing about it. But all the sadness and moping around leads to more growth, more discovery about myself… and obviously more variety in my writing.