I ran into an old friend the other day. My girlfriend and I were at the gym and suddenly from behind a machine I catch a glimpse of someone I have not seen in probably a year, and that last time was at her grandmother’s funeral, but before that I had not seen her since we graduated high school. See this person and I used to be inseparable. There was a time where her house was my house and where her family was like my family. I would go there and just walk in, but that person seemed so foreign to me now as she stood there across the gym from me. Of course we said hello, we traded pleasantries and then we separated as if we were strangers…and we are strangers.
I don’t know that person anymore and that realization is mind boggling to me. Had you approached me when I was 13 and said that in 13, not even, 5 years from then I would not even speak to this person on a semi-regular basis I would not have believed you. It had me thinking about how much I have changed over the years and how the people that I keep close to me are completely different than they were all those years ago.
I was never the most popular, in fact, I was kind of known as a bitch. That was more due to my resting bitch face than actual interactions with people, but hey, it was high school so there is really no proof needed for a label to be placed on you, but she was my friend. We had been friends for years and had a friendship that far exceeded anything that I had experienced at that time, but as I reflect on it now there was so much unsaid between us. I, and I am slightly ashamed to say this, was a bit of a follower for a while. I just went along with a lot of things, I was lost, I didn’t know myself very well, but what I did know I wasn’t fully accepting of.
I used to try to overcompensate for my “downfalls” and that would mean I was a high honors, sports playing, good girl. My low self-esteem ravaged through my entire life, from my body image to my dating choices to the people I kept near me, my “friends”. As I am older and wiser now I base my self-esteem on different things. I recognize my strengths as openly and realistically as I acknowledge my flaws. I realize now that they are a part of who I am. They make me real and human and that is an amazing thing. Working in a middle school I see dozens of students every day that adjust themselves, portion out the pieces that they think people won’t like, and pretend to be what they think people will. I wish so badly that I could tell them be yourself, love yourself, grow for yourself because all this other stuff fades away in the end.
The only person that you need to make happy is yourself because in 5, 10, maybe 13 years you will run into someone that you used to know, someone that knew everything about the version of yourself that you were back then, and you will realize that you are so much better off being true to yourself, loving yourself, and living every moment. I don’t know that girl anymore, I don’t know how she treats people, I don’t even know what she does; but I know me. I know how I have battled through many things to be my truest self now and that makes me proud, so so fucking proud.