A couple of weeks ago now, I celebrated four years of this blog. It was such an encouraging and humbling moment. Looking back I only ever saw this as an opportunity to express myself, for myself. It was a small project to keep me stimulated during my gap year, as my life changed my blog became so much more. I used this platform to form and share my opinion and I found a sense of community I could never of imagined.
Taking the time to look back over the years made me incredibly proud, and I think only now, after reading over my pieces have I grasped fully how much I’ve changed. Originally, I wanted to acknowledge the obvious ways in which I’ve grown. To delve into hindsight and round everything off. As if this process is finite, as if I’ve reached some sort of catalyst and now I’m good and well to get on with life.
I don’t want to frame the last four years as some prophetic and spectacular experience. For the most part these changes have come from an established sense of self awareness. From trauma or from turning inward and asking myself when will I cut the shit.
I can’t round off the process because it’s incomplete, in fact I’m experiencing the uncertainty and jarring exposure that comes with change right now. Rather than speaking on singular moments that have made me reconsider myself, I want to talk about how I’ve come to terms with growth. I want to talk about how this platform helped me.
I’ve noticed that we don’t change in grand and sweeping ways. We shift parts of ourselves in such small and nuanced ways that no one seems to notice, until it’s months, even years later and we don’t even recognise ourselves.
We become what the people around us need in order to pacify, to keep them comfortable and happy. We sometimes contort for the very people who taught us to speak up, who showed us how to stand alone if need be, for what we believe in.
Personally, it had gotten to a point where I didn’t know who I really was anymore, without people’s expectations without the precedence of who I was known to be. Who my family remembers raising, who my friends share memories with, who my partner fell in love with.
I remember a few years ago now, my best friend explaining how we had met all those years ago. She talked about the first time she ever came to visit me on the weekend and how shocked she was to see the difference of how I held myself around her in comparison to how I acted around my family. I remember feeling uncomfortable with that comment, that no one should be so different that your best friend didn’t even recognise you in certain encounters.
I remember coming back to the friends I made here at university and feeling it again, three years had passed I could remember what precedence I had set for myself. I was terrified that I wasn’t what they wanted me to be.
We are taught to bend without breaking in order to be seen as good; a good friend a good daughter and sister, to save face or to keep the peace or maybe for reasons that aren’t rooted in anything malicious, but because people like the familiar.
I’ve noticed people telling me lately that I’m not really myself. Who I was before new friendships, cities, career trajectories, relationships, heartbreak, and experiences. I have been filled with such a deep sense of guilt and sadness because I did not present in a way that people had grown familiar to.
I looked at myself, at my mind and my heart and I didn’t recognise myself. Through this blog, through being vulnerable and accountable I’ve learned that I’m not moving away from who I once was, I am growing closer to who I truly am. It has been a safe space for me, to check in with myself without any expectations.
Four years later, I’ve come to accept the comments and messages. All of the encouragement. When people tell me I’m brave for sharing such intimate parts of myself I don’t brush it off anymore, because it is brave. Because it’s does come from a place of self assurance and strength.
Because people see me changing and tell me that I must be breaking, but I read back to where I once was, to what I thought about myself, what I was worthy of and I know for sure, breaking comes first. You break, and then you dust off all of that precedence, you pick yourself back up and you build.
I will continue to write, to express myself for myself. I am so thankful for the people I have connected with and I can only hope the next four years bring me closer to who I truly am, who I’m proud of showing up as.