I am 20.5 years old and I am sitting in the library eating an apple. In this moment I am a college student, a daughter, a sister, friend. I am a science major, a writer, a reader, a vegan, and occasional yogi, semi regular runner, and full time adventurer and observer of life. I am all of these things. I am this person, in this moment right now. But what we often forget is all the other people we were and are. (I mean that in the least psychotic way).
What I mean is that I am not the same person I was last year, a few days ago, last night. I mean that you aren’t either. But I also mean we still carry those people around, and we can’t forget about them. All of the people we used to be don’t just disappear at the end of each day. They hang around and influence us and come back to light when we least expect it, whether that is for better or for worse.
The me, who thought she was going to be a professional ballerina, wears a pink tutu and hair tied back in a bow and only ever wants to dance and watch the little mermaid. She comes out every time I forget to care about my adult responsibilities and get distracted by an especially nice breeze and some flowers and can’t bring myself pay attention to anything else. The me who was too old to be terrified of the dark, and didn’t have many friends, and was too shy to answer the phone and who’s heart raced every time she had to speak up in class, never truly got away. She comes back when things get too real and it hits me that I have no idea what I’m doing, don’t know how to answer that question, or can’t hit send on that particular email. There is a me so dramatic and full of angst that she keeps a diary under her pillow and pouts a lot and rolls her eyes at any music that doesn’t come out of her own headphones. She isn’t my favorite me, but she is important and hangs out with me when my heart is broken, and helps me tear things up and blast all the right songs and turn awful sinking feelings into words. I think she is also the me who turns the radio down and threatens to jump out of the car when country music comes on.
There is a me who is so happy it hurts and she’s all smiles and sunflowers and beautiful blissful ignorance and is somebody’s girlfriend, and there is a me who is black painted nails and crumpled up poems and cynical tendencies, and has only herself. There is a me who is 5 years old and needs a lot of help but isn’t afraid to admit that sports are stupid. There is an anxious 8 year old with 8 million to-do lists and a huge heart and a crush on some boy who will definitely turn into an asshole someday. There is an awkward 13 year old who thinks she knows everything and wants to grow up too quickly. There is a 16 year old me who thinks world might crumble if she fails geometry or can’t find the perfect dress for the dance. There’s an 18 year old me who only ever wants to read and thinks parties are overrated and would role her eyes at the 19 year old me, who realized she wasn’t too good for popular music, spontaneous tattoos, or making a fool of herself, and decided to say yes more and learned more than all of the other me’s combined. And then there is me, me right now. 20 year old me perched in the library, thinking of them all and half hating, half missing, everything that they each had to offer, and realizing a part of each of them will always be here.
I think we all have those people and instead of pretending they never existed and acting like we are a whole new person, we should thank them and appreciate them for getting us this far, to wherever and whoever we are now. We didn’t die and come back to life as an entirely different stranger every day for 20 years. We learned, changed, made mistakes, made success and we grew, and are still growing. We are all of the people we used to be, and are going to be so many more who we have yet to meet. We will keep creating countless “me’s” who will piss off and frustrate and excite and make the 40, 50, 60 year old “me’s” laugh, cry, remember, and most importantly, grow further still.
I’m not sure about you, but everyone I used to be would be impressed and terrified of who I am now.