“Oh, our futures were written with crayons in coloring booksIt was misspelled and outside the lines and we loved how it lookedLike the crooked hem of your favorite childhood dressAnd the holes in my jeans from years of carelessnessI know since we’ve grown, we ache for those memories.”-“Next to Me”, Sleeping at Last
Recently, I’ve been feeling nostalgic for the girl I used to be. It’s more than nostalgia, really–its an aching deep down inside that fills me up with tears full of memories, of deep-belly laughs on the lakeshore and secret messages in glass bottles hidden in the bushes, and when they fall they leave a crooked path not unlike the one that we lined with daisies on the way to our fort in the middle of the oak trees. Its a feeling of loss, of longing for that doe-eyed, pure, untouched little girl who gazed upon the world with wonder of why in the world I was lucky enough to be given a life like this to live. I miss the girl who danced in the streets, for the whole world to see. I miss the girl who hated naps because there was too much life to live. I miss the hopes and dreams that I had for myself, when the future was somewhere far off in the distance. But most of all, I miss when I was whole. Before I cracked and pieces of me were scattered to the wind like the dandelions I used to make wishes on. Before people changed, before everyone left, before I curled up inside myself and shut the door.
But I have chosen to live my life with no regrets, always moving forward, taking everything that happens as a learning experience. While I was living my life by myself, behind closed doors, away from the world that my young eyes used to see as so beautiful and magical, I learned some invaluable lessons that have shaped me into a new human being who is growing around and in between the cracks that line my body. People always change and people always leave, but I will always have myself. Cultivating myself, mind, body, and soul, is the most important gift I can give to myself, for the present and the future. And I’ve been practicing seeing myself as this new person–a young woman who is broken, but is marching on despite of the holes in her heart and in her mind. And as I get further and further away from the pieces I’ve left behind, the cracks fade a little bit and new me grows in. Its weird to become a new person, but what’s really awesome is that the new bits of me are all mixed in with the girl I used to be. She’s still there, buried underneath burdens, but she hasn’t left. It has taken me years to hear her voice, and I’ll never completely be the girl I used to be, but I think a big part of life is becoming okay with that. I don’t believe there is some penultimate person I’m “supposed to become.” I am forever being molded, being shaped into the best person I can be to the world at that moment.
The past is no place to live. There is only the present. As I grow outside of myself and learn how to live with the door open again, I catch glimpses of that girl who read stories to her stuffed animals and laid in the grass and tried to count the stars. She is me, and I am her. I have been hurt, sure, but the world is still such an unbelievably beautiful place with opportunity abounding in every corner. I use that as motivation–not some picture of a stick-thin girl with Sharpied on abs or a desired income. No, I choose to believe that no matter what I look like, no matter who leaves me, no matter what my transcript says, that I have so much to give the world and it has so much that it longs to give me in return. The girl I used to be gave me that wonder, that yearning for life, and the person I am becoming will be forever grateful for that.