People Never Change (Except When They Do)

In my youth (if, at the ripe old age of 20 I’m allowed to call it that) I came to a firm notion that people do not change. This was prompted by a few unlucky endeavors towards relationships that crashed and burned around me and in watching similar circumstances befall my friends. These boys would promise to change and they wouldn’t. These girls would promise themselves and one another to gain the courage to stop relying on these boys for their self esteem… but they wouldn’t. I myself promised I would stop looking everywhere for love and start seeing guys as people too… but I couldn’t. So, in all my wisdom, I concluded that people couldn’t change–not in the big ways, not in the ways that mattered. Once a cheater, always a cheater. Once a co-dependent, needy lover, always a co-dependent, needy lover.

To illustrate my point, here is an old picture of me with my brother.

I would not be writing this blog post if that was still my opinion. I look back at who I was at 17 and I do not recognize her. And not JUST because I’ve changed physically. At that age, I was a bitter, angry teenage girl who had decided that men were the enemy and relationships (although I still longed for one) were more trouble than they were worth. And okay, I still feel like relationships cause me a lot of stress when I accidentally stumble into one, but I don’t think men are all secretly in an alliance to make me feel worthless. I recognize now what, at 17, I couldn’t see–that we’re all just people, stumbling around trying to make sense of life. I’ve grown a lot, emotionally, although I’m sure there’s a long way to go before I’m ready to give up my independence and settle in for the long haul (although MAYBE it’s like my friends and family keep telling me and it’s really all about meeting the right guy.)

But it isn’t just my outlook on love (which is hard to ignore, given the hearts and pink and adverts everywhere you turn this time of year) that has changed. I do things differently now. Where before, I would have laughed at you if you suggested that I exercise, I do it (basically) every day now. I won’t say that I do it with a HUGE smile on my face, but I get a satisfaction out of it that the former me would never have expected. I positively wept at the thought of running the mile in high school gym, and now I sign up to run three miles all the time–ON PURPOSE. I would have laughed if you’re said I would be looking for ways to cook healthy foods and shocked if you told me that months would pass by without a trip to Taco Bell. That’s not to say I never decide to eat too much pizza, or two slices of cake in a day, but that on the whole my health habits are so different that a younger me would never have anticipated the change.

And this, as you know, is what I look like now.

You might say that habits and attitudes aren’t indicative of real change, but I would disagree. Our habits and our thoughts are what make us who we are and influence what we do, and here I sit at 20 doing and thinking very different things from what I did and thought at 20. So, 17 year old me, I want to tell you something. I know you’re pissed that you got cheated on and irritated that a parade of boys wasn’t waiting to pick up the slack, but people DO change. Just look at you’ve become in 3 short years, and think of who you’ll be in 3 more.

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