hiding cat

Do you ever wonder who you are meant to be, who you are, and what you could have been like, if life hadn’t trampled you a few times?

Looking back, I was a relatively good natured little girl, certainly shy but very opinionated. I said what I believed and what I thought. I was happy to entertain myself. I looked forward to seeing my friends at church, but it never crossed my mind the rest of the week to be “lonely.” I had school to do! Books to read! Toys to play with!

Somewhere along the way, that changed. I started craving and “needing” attention and affirmation. I started doing things to earn approval from others rather than simply being who I am. (I was never a particularly selfish or mean child, so “who I was” wouldn’t be a bad thing as an adult.) I stopped sharing my thoughts because I got “blasted” a few too many times and in my state of turmoil, didn’t know how to respond to so many “feelings” from other people. Now, I’m a withdrawn, reserved, internally-opinionated (as opposed to sharing those views) woman. I’m not the little girl anymore.

A few of these changes are good, but some of them aren’t. Sometimes, we conform because life leaves us no other choice. As a friend told me recently, “After life beats the crap out of you, you change.” And it isn’t always for the better.

Life really does beat the crap out of us. It takes our dreams and shreds them. Other people disappoint us. Nothing goes as planned. And we change. Sometimes for the better, but not always. That cheerful, happy little girl with all her big dreams, immense imagination, and self-contented nature went away and is replaced with a cynical, attention-starved, melancholy woman who sometimes wishes she could be that bright-eyed little blonde girl again, happily sharing of herself with the people she loves and not really needing much attention.

I can see what shifted to make me different. I can see where social networking left me with a “need” to be recognized and affirmed. I can see where my choice of friends influenced me to keep quiet rather than get yelled at, instead of standing up for the truth. I can see where the harsh realities of life trampled some of my joy. Most of all, I can see where a “it doesn’t matter” attitude developed, as I discovered that PEOPLE DON’T CARE. And it’s sad, but it doesn’t have to be that way. We can look our current selves in the face, take hold of the bad things we’ve let influence our perspectives and personalities, and say, “You’re not going to beat me. I am going to be who I’m meant to be, with or without you!”

Everything helps us become who we are, but we can choose what to keep and what to throw away.