"Excuses are a chance to reiterate who they are.
Your reactions are a chance to reiterate who you are."
I've spent a lot of time lately looking at the person who I've been, and the person that I am now, and kind of wondering: if I could go back and change anything, what would it be? I don't believe in the whole "no regrets" thing, because I think that everyone has regrets and I also believe that we NEED them. Without messing up, being aware of it, and progressing forward as a result of it- we don't grow. So I like that I have regrets because it means I was aware of what needed to change. I like that.
I think that if I could change anything, though, it would be to not have taken so long to figure out who I wanted to be. Let me start that with a story. A really, really embarrassing story. The summer before my senior year in high school, we took our individual portraits. It's this big deal and in my house my parents put everyone's up on the main wall and blah blah blah. So there's a head shot (which is still at my parent's house), and a full body shot where you use all kinds of props to showcase what your strengths and interests are. My sister had her Cheerleading garb, my brother had his Letterman's jacket from Waterpolo... etc. I had no idea what to do. I certainly wasn't going to wear my swimsuit and goggles, and I didn't really have many interests (or so I thought) outside of just 'hanging out.' I asked my Mom for her advice and she suggested all of these neat little props to represent "me." So what does my picture have? I'm sitting on a Zebra-print blanket (to show I was trendy or something I guess), holding a magazine with a picture of Sarah Michelle Gellar on the cover (to show that I was a huge Buffy fan), next to a stuffed Eeyore doll (to show that I was suicidal or something), and I'm holding a guitar. I HAD NEVER PLAYED THE GUITAR IN MY LIFE. The idea was, according to my mom, I knew I wanted to learn to play some day. And by the time I was going to look back on these pictures, I'd be really, really good. Probably.
I used to be so ashamed of this picture, and obviously I realize how totally ridiculous it is. But it occurred to me, yesterday, how 100% spot on it was as far as representing "who I was." I was a girl who had no idea who I was. Everything was projected as this image of who other people thought I should be. Note: if you have to ask your mother what represents 'you,' you're doing it wrong. But that's who I was- an interpretation of what everyone else wanted to see. My bedroom wall was cluttered with magazine pictures of women skinnier and prettier and more famous than me- people that the world put on a glossy page and told every teenage girl that we should be like. I bought the shoes they said were cool, I took the general ed classes in college that everyone took. My personality was essentially a xerox copy of whoever seemed like they knew what they were doing.
It wasn't until years later that I started to befriend more people who promoted individuality, and I started to see things that the world showed me and say, "meh, that's not for me." And maybe that makes me less of a celebrated "yes" person, but I'm okay with that. When I look around my room, now, I see places around the world that I've been because they were important to me. I have books that represent my values and clothes and jewelry that I think are pretty and comfortable. I have a 13 lb. cat that everyone else hates but I think she's the greatest thing in the world and they can go to hell if they have a problem with that. I love my little life, and it finally feels like home to me.
The reason I started out my entry with that quote is that I was having a moment today where I felt like I was kind of getting the butt of things. I was irritated that people were expecting things of me that I felt they weren't personifying themselves, and it was very much a "well, why should I do it then??" moment. And I made all of these very true, very valid excuses of why I felt like the only non-hypocrite. But that thought stopped me because, at the end of the day, I can only control my own actions and reactions. And just because I feel that someone else has made poor choices doesn't change a thing about my own. I struggle with that concept a lot, actually. And not to sound like I'm a saint by all means, because I can be a real selfish asshole. But I often feel like it would be fair and right for me to react to a scenario based on the scenario, and not on the person that I try to be. But I don't want to be anybody based on what other people believe I should be. I'm not a teenager, asking what represents "me." I am "me," and I should be the one deciding what to include in the picture.