Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The work of self-discovery is never done, even when you look the same

When I hear the word "change" I automatically think "diapers." Oh, that's not what you had intended by picking that word this month, Mara? Well, in that case I guess the next thing that comes to mind is the following.

I love change. I think that puts me in the minority. Granted there are certain things I like to be consistent, but on the whole I'm a big fan of change. I rearrange my furniture regularly (much the the dismay of my husband who thinks I shouldn't move certain pieces of furniture (the pianos) on my own), I have looked forward to every move we have made, and I adore living somewhere with seasons just so we can constantly be in a state of change. I'm not good with routines, maybe that's why change is so attractive. It seduces me into thinking that around the next corner good things will come. And usually they do.

Personal change is a different story. I've spent a good chunk of my life trying to change who I am. I've never been very successful at it. I've tried to force myself into being an athlete, musician, artist, and fiction writer among other things. I've also tried to force my body to be a size that was unhealthy for me. I've often sought clothes, makeup, and other looks that were not comfortable for me either.

So I recently gave up trying to "change." Instead I was going to learn who exactly I was/am and learn to love that girl. I guess this in and of itself was a change. I needed to learn who this girl was that I've been living with for 27 years. But this sort of scared me too. No change anymore? Does that mean that I'll be exactly the same my whole life? I wasn't exactly a fan of the girl I was back in high school, does getting to know myself mean I'll be that girl the rest of my life?

How can a girl who loves change live without change?

I mean, aside from the recent weight gain I've pretty much looked the same my whole life. See:

The first one is lacking the handsome man, but has some pretty sweet bangs. Otherwise I've stayed pretty constant. The only thing that changes is my hair and weight. You can see how maybe I've been afraid that I'll just be the same as always. And what if I don't like the person I find?

I found this quote and love it:

"'People change and forget to tell each other,' Lillian Hellman once observed. Very often, however, it's the inner you who changes at the speed of light. Problems can arise when your authentic self and your conscious self don't communicate about the new direction you are moving in. And they probably aren't communicating if you're not using an introspective tool. . . It's no wonder if you feel confused and disoriented. Don't panic. This is a healthy sign of new growth." (Simple Abundance, Sarah Ban Breathnach)

While I may look the same as I did when I was 10, 15, 20, and 25 I'm most definitely a different person. I guess I'm not going to be stuck in my role as a flirty, dramatic teenager the rest of my life (thank goodness).

I still think of my brother as the little kid he was when I left home. He was 11, scrawny, and shorter than me. Sometimes it surprises me to see him now. He's tall and built. His voice is deep. He has the most hilarious sense of humor. Oh yeah, and he's 20. He forgot to tell me that he changed over time. And sometimes I find myself wondering how it happened. I think the same thing happens with our own changes as we age. We forget to tell ourselves.

But this quote brings up another interesting point: We will change. If we take the time to get to know ourselves and think our work is done we are going to find ourselves at a disconnect at some point. Because we will never be the same. We change and evolve as we age. As a result it is our job to always be in touch with our inner desires.

I noticed this recently with me. I've always been the girl who needed mascara. I also like to wear brown eyeshadows. But I've found that I don't like the result as much as I used to when I do my my makeup the way I've always done it. Instead, I need to have my hair done. Even if I don't wear makeup, I like the way I look when my hair is done. Not so much a ponytail girl anymore (although I still do that plenty). When I do want makeup on I like to have a nice shimmer instead of the dark brown I used to wear. I've changed. And that's okay.

So I guess my point is this: We will change. Life is about change. Learn to accept and love yourself through (and maybe because) of the change. Keep in touch with your inner authentic self. She may surprise you with what she wants next.

This post was written as part of the Self-Discovery Series. Mara, from Medicinal Marzipan was the fantastic host of this month's word: change. Learn more on Medicinal Marzipan and check out Mara's post on change.