|Mirror Pictures circa 2005|
But what if, in the space of 4 years, you lose everything about yourself only to have to start again?
Between the ages of 16 and 20, my whole world changed so much that I had no choice but to redevelop myself, working from the bottom up. I don't have an issue with the changes in myself, or other people for that matter. I'd always advocate for adapting and changing whatever parts of you you'd like whenever you'd like. My concern lies with the footprint you've left in the earth. The footprint that you no longer fit inside.
I exist as two different people in this world now. The person I am today, and the person I was 4 years ago in the world I left behind. We all exist as different copies of ourselves really. When that distant family member says "my goodness haven't you grown!" that's them confessing that they had held one single copy of you in their mind and hadn't taken it upon themselves to update it. This past version of myself now exists only in a world that has long forgotten me. When others think of me, without knowledge of who I am today, they think of nothing but a ghost. A figment of their imagination. It's not that I have a problem with the who I was at 16, it's just that nothing remains of that person. Like a snake, we all shed our skin every so often, we just do it in personality traits and hair colour.
|Mirror pictures 2013|
What used to be mornings of waking up at the crack of dawn just to cover myself in badly applied makeup and straighten and backcomb my already dead hair, are now mornings filled with deep breathing and kindness (and puppies). My mind may be unwell, but my soul feels healthier than ever, and I owe that to my choice to strip away everything I don't want any more. I am in awe of the people who do run their mornings with beauty and glamour, I could spend hours watching makeup videos on Instagram but I'm self-assured enough to know I'm not interested in trying it myself. I suppose I'm a bit stubborn now, I won't do anything I don't want to do if it involves pretending to be someone I'm not. Life is far too short to torture myself by forcing myself into activities I don't want to do.
Academia was never my strong point, not because I wasn't smart, but because I didn't care. If I didn't care for the subject, I wasn't going to do it. (Here's a written apology to all the teachers who dealt with my "coasting", thank you for sticking it out.) These days, despite not being in any full-time education, I love to learn because it's MY choice, and there are so many teachers and classes I look back on fondly, for still inspiring me to keep growing. Turns out the world is just a much easier place to be in when you're not being forced or pretending.
When I first cut my hair off, I felt free, like I'd released myself from the chains which held me back to being the same person I'd always been. Turns out, changing your look won't automatically free you from the past, but it's a good start. Not too long ago, I went and bleached my hair again for the very first time since I was 16. Being bleach blonde was my "thing" then and I held onto it with the grip of a child on a comfort blanket, but when I got ill I decided it wasn't important anymore. Dying my hair again seems so insignificant, but to me it really meant something. It meant to me that I was getting better. That I was shifting my priorities again, to include indulgence, because my desire to try new things and stand out a little more had returned. Not everything from your past life has to go away forever, you see. You can pick and chose who you want to be at any given time and you never have to feel guilty or wrong for dropping and collecting any parts of you that you feel you're missing, or don't want around for a while.
I feel so much more peaceful inside myself these days. I have nothing but positivity to put out into the world, even when it hasn't always done the same in return. I often wish I'd found this part of myself when I was younger, but sometimes you have to learn the hard way. I consider myself a grandma in a 20-somethings body (even if I'm often mistaken for 15), and I couldn't be happier. If I'd felt this confident in my own choices when I was at school, I truly think life would have been extremely different today.
|Mirror Pictures 2017|
You can cleanse your life of all the debris that remains from the years gone by, you don't need to carry it with you. Be it pictures you've kept, a hairstyle or Facebook friends you barely remember, you are allowed to start again. Those who remind you of your wrong-doings aren't valuable to your fresh start. The people who have watched you change and grow will be the only people who matter.
The only harm you can do comes from allowing your memories to shape who you are today. You don't have to be a certain type of person, interested in certain types of things just because of your experiences in the past or what others thought of you. You can shape your own world, just by deciding that you want to start again.
I'm telling you, you are allowed to make choices that will erase your footprint from the earth. You're allowed as many footprints as you need before you get it right for you.
I suppose my point is that you can be whatever and whoever you want. Change as often as you feel necessary. Adapt to new surroundings and never feel guilty for leaving behind a world you once happily inhabited. Know that some people weren't meant to benefit your life forever, some may have never benefitted you at all, but the clouds of youth covered it. Start fresh and be unapologetically yourself.
|Dungarees, a puppy, and that boy I friend zoned in 2008.|
Stop going out to places you don't like, doing things you don't care for, just because it's the done thing.
Cut out the ex-partners and ex-friends that don't serve to benefit your life. In fact, as a general rule, cut out anyone who doesn't add joy to your days without hesitation.
Take up that hobby you're nervous about because you don't know if it'll be weird or if you'll be any good.
Put your feelings out there and never look back.