The other day, I had a rushed morning. I checked email, chugged my lemon water, hurried in the shower, dropped Teddy off at the groomers, and ran to a meeting. Honestly, it wasn’t anything out of the ordinary for me, but it didn’t allow much time to think. It was just go.
The meeting was going really well and as I was sharing a bit of the background of The College Prepster, I realized just how much I had changed over the years. To be completely honest, I do not recognize myself. If I were to go back and tell my 15-almost-16 year old self where I would be in ten years, I don’t think my younger self would have believed me. Nope!!!
Growing up, I always dealt with anxiety. I had great friends, but I never would do something that I didn’t feel 100% comfortable doing. I never went to the movies on Friday nights in middle school. I didn’t go to any parties. I went to homecomings and proms, but didn’t dance. Even little things like telling a waiter what I wanted to order was hard! The list goes on and on.
I never would have believed that I was going to meetings with strangers basically every day. I would have never believed that I was voluntarily throwing myself down a mountain on skis or sinking in a pool learning how to scuba dive. I wouldn’t have believed that I was in a great relationship. I would never believe that my formerly terrified of dogs self would end up with a dog of her own.
As excited as I am to know how far I’ve come and knowing that there’s still room to grow, it does make me sometimes look back and wonder if my life would have been different had I been this “new” me from the very beginning.
But then I remember that the new me has been me all along and that everything I’ve gone through, overcome, faced is all part of the journey. It’s all part of my story. The good, the bad, the ugly.
And actually, it’s mostly the bad and ugly that really forced me to grow and change. (Yes, I know this is cliche!!! It just is so true, I can’t not say it.) That time I fainted before my college interview? That time I failed my first ever college exam? That time I dropped out of a class and squeaked by another with a D? That time I found myself on the floor of the bathroom crying at work? That time I had to decide between my job and my passion?
Those moments led me to where I am today, in a powerful, the-dots-all-connect way.
So instead of feeling sad about thinking what I might have missed growing up because of my anxiety, I just own my story and know it’s just as much a part of who I am as having green eyes is. It’s just me.
I don’t think about all these changes frequently, but sometimes it hits me. Like when I’m sitting across from a near stranger, completely comfortable, talking openly about my life and my business and thinking to myself, “Wow, I can do this. I am doing this.”
This is not to say that I don’t still have things to work on. I’ve been having the worst time trying to fall asleep every night lately. There are times when I feel sick to my stomach and frozen with fear and self-doubt. But I get through it. Somehow, someway, I get through whatever it is.
The strangest thing has been happening to me. I don’t recognize myself. My reflection looks the same, yes. But there are so many moments where I both don’t feel myself and feel myself. At the same time. I don’t feel like myself because it’s been so long since I’ve been myself!
There have certainly been moments when I’ve seen glimpses of who I am, but I don’t think I realized how significant the changes were. Until, you know, I feel back to normal. Or on my way back to normal that is.
Towards the end of high school, I was pretty much heads down, with the rest of my class, on getting the best grades and then getting into “good colleges.” By my junior year, I was already running on exhaust fumes… awake at 5:45, school from 7:25 to 2:45, crew practice from 3:30 to 7:00, a quick break for dinner, and then homework until after midnight. #rinseandrepeat College wasn’t totally better between morning practices, minor mental breakdowns, regattas every weekend, pressure for a “good gpa,” finding a job, building the blog, launching a magazine, etc. The month I was home between graduation and moving to NYC wasn’t relaxing (at all), because it was all about the JOB HUNT. Must find the perfect job.
And then it was a year of insanity. I truly don’t know what I was thinking or frankly how I did it. I think I must have been in some sort of constant state of adrenaline. Sleeping three or four hours a night for weeks’ on end?! Trying to fit in two more-than-full-time jobs plus friends plus everything into my life? Again, I don’t know how I did it. I really think it was a constant stream of adrenaline mixed in with some sort of post-graduate temporary manic state.
Even though it’s only been a few weeks since I left my job to focus on what I was really passionate about, I already feel like a new person. But the new person isn’t really new is she? She’s really the girl I’ve always been… just hidden under layers and layers of pressure and stress that I had buried myself under.
I’m actually (finally) having fun and enjoying every minute of what I’m doing. I have time to enjoy things instead of just rushing through it for the next thing. I have more time to work on the things I love, which also gives me more time to work on things that have nothing to do with “work.” Lunch breaks that are actually breaks?! Reading in the morning because I want to, not just because I’m stuck underground for twenty minutes. (And if I want to read another chapter just because… I can.)
When I talk to friends, which I’m sure they appreciate, it’s less about venting and more about sharing exciting news or simply catching up. There’s time for friends. Not squeezing friend time in between events or meetings, but real time for real friendships. And that makes me happy.
I don’t have to be on my computer fourteen hours a day, not that I had to before, but it certainly felt like it (or maybe it really was entirely self-imposed).
I never really thought of myself as a “happy” person. Not that I was gloomy, I just never considered myself one of those beaming people. While I’ll never be the life of the party, I’m surprised at how happy I’ve been. Excited about things instead of just chugging along. Setting great goals and feeling ready to accomplish them versus just checking off the boxes on a to-do list.
It sounds so cheesy and beyond cliché… I know. (Two months ago I would have wanted to slap myself for even saying this… but…) Everything is just so much better. Lazy mornings are better. Movies are better. Songs (omg the songs) are better. Working is better. (Gosh, even my skin is better.)
This isn’t to say that I’m not stressed at all. It’s just that the stress is more manageable and reasonable. My anxiety around certain things still exist, but it’s not in the way of getting through life. And sometimes I cry and get worrisome about the future and meeting certain goals and just being 24 years old living on my own in this big city. But I think I wouldn’t be doing things right if I wasn’t a little bit nervous!
So everything is a bit brighter and way more exciting.
And I’m liking this girl that I’ve rediscovered. I think I’ll keep her around.
Have you ever felt like not yourself? How did you get back to her?