Changing Who I Am

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 Now, I’m a withdrawn, reserved, internally-opinionated (as opposed to sharing those views) woman.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.

21 thoughts on “Changing Who I Am

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  1. I had the similar problem with social networking about 2 years ago. I had a Facebook account, and became somewhat obsessive, not just with the site, but with the idea of “acceptance” in general. Given that I’m a teen, and even younger at the time, it makes sense that I would want to be accepted. After that year though, I was done with it all and changed my behavior completely, and developed a lot of my INTJ characteristics, I probably had them as a child, but they were more subtle. I like who I am now, even though I know that I’m not and can never be a stereotypical teen girl and that that’s okay. There are things i want and need to change – not hurting my friends with words for example – and im going to try hard. I know I’ll change in the future, and that’s okay too.

  2. You were a blonde? 😉

    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?

    Actually–not really. Not because I think it’s foolish or pointless to wonder such things, but because I feel I can look back and see how and why certain aspects of my personality changed, and make a fairly good educated guess at who I would be if I hadn’t changed. Most aspects of my personality haven’t changed much from childhood–but those aspects that did–pretty much did a 180. Once I was sooo scared of initiating conversation, now I usually take the first step. I used to dread group situations as well. I constantly worried that I was ugly, and felt awkward. (What’s disturbing about this is that apparently I am not alone, according to some studies more little girls are having self-esteem issues well before their teens, when such things are expected)

    When I was 11, I lost my childhood, but when I was 12, I found God. So I would say I am actually a somewhat happier person now than I was as a child.

    Of course being a happier person doesn’t mean being a better person. This is a dangerous mistake that most of us make, “If I feel good, I must be good.” We don’t want to realize that we might’ve become a less honest or more selfish person.

    I can see where social networking left me with a “need” to be recognized and affirmed.

    OK–this is one thing that’s been driving me crazy–I notice a lot of sites essentially “run” on the idea that you need other people to “like” or “vote up” etc; everything one posts. That getting quoted and referenced is a feather in one’s cap in most online circles. This is most obvious at sites like tumblr, reddit or facebook, as though most of the internet is one big popularity contest.

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

    Wonderful words, and worth remembering.

    1. Yup. I had whitish-blonde hair. When I was born, it was so dark it was black, then it went blonde, and now it’s … well, neither one.

      It’s good that your changes have been positive. A few of mine have been as well but overall, I sometimes wonder if I might have been better off if I’d never started social networking. True, I made a few friends over the years but the amount of angst, misunderstandings, fights, and other things that stemmed from it… I don’t know that it was worth all that.

      The internet IS a popularity contest. But then, too, it’s also a simple desire for appreciation. If you put a lot of work into something, you want someone to notice it.

  3. You mentioned keeping quiet rather than getting yelled at. Well, I have another take on that. I believe that sometimes we DO need to keep our mouths shut. It’s not always necessary to give our opinions or to tell someone that we don’t agree with a choice (non-sin) that they’ve made.

    For years, I’ve been beaten down and made to feel that I’m doing something wrong or that I don’t measure up, always by people who felt compelled to tell me they didn’t agree with choices I’ve made. (“You’re too old for another baby. Why would you want one at your age anyhow?” There must be something wrong with you if you think this weather is cold.” “You’re going to ruin your kids by homeschooling them.” And on and on it goes.)

    The reality is that there is no single right way to live out our lives…most of life is a matter of likes and preferences…and to beat someone up or belittle them, simply because they have different ideas than we do, is unacceptable. My soapbox statement in life has become, “Different doesn’t mean wrong.” As a result, I don’t always feel the need to give my opinion and tell someone that I don’t agree with a choice they made. Just as I wish people wouldn’t always feel the need to tell me that they don’t agree with my choices.

    I’ve learned to live by this quote: “The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult still, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.” (Dorothy Nevill)

    1. I agree that sometimes we do need to keep our opinions to ourselves… but on the other hand, Christians shutting up is exactly why our country is in the toilet right now. We stopped not only standing up for our beliefs but defending them. And, I’ve seen some of my friends hop, skip, and jump into bad trouble because I was too intimidated to warn them that their bad behavior was going to backfire. I didn’t want to get yelled at, when it would have helped everyone if I’d said something.

      Personal opinions are one thing, and absolutely should be kept to oneself if they are going to be hurtful, but … sometimes you need to speak up. I don’t care how many kids someone has, but if they’re thinking about stepping out on their kids and husband with somebody else, I’m going to call them on it.

    2. “You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.”
      Friedrich Nietzsche

  4. This was an excellent post. The hard part comes when you actually act on your intentions to become a better person. It won’t happen over night; it may takes months or even years to break free of the person we’ve becomes, I believe it will happen. We just can’t let the inevitable setbacks discourage us.

    1. If we fail, that’s when we remember that God doesn’t ask us to be perfect — He just asks us to do our best. Our mistakes are in the past. He forgives them and moves on — we should too. 🙂

  5. That sounds exactly like me. I even used to have blond hair 😛 But I’m slowly learning that most of the people who inspire you to be greater had to go through these changes too, and learned to be who they are. And giving up isn’t always wrong.

    1. Sometimes moving on can be beneficial — being innocent is a good thing, but not if it gets you into hot water all the time, because you don’t know danger when it flashes a road sign at you. But yeah, some of life’s lessons aren’t fun.

    1. Yes, exactly. My feelings completely. I see that a lot of cynicism has developed in myself over the past two years. Very different outlook on life. EXCELLENT post.

  6. Came across your site and read a few posts now and I want to say I totally relate. After reading this post I was left thinking how sad it is how we can feel so empty when we all have so much potential to be happy. I have no idea who I am or why I exist. We might be able to figure it out if only we could find the right people, place, environment, job, circumstance… We can all take comfort knowing whatever our struggle, we’re not alone. We never are. There are others who understand ‘cos they’re wrestling the same problem 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts in your blog 🙂

    1. True, we’re all in the same boat to some extent. I think, though, that the lesson we have to learn at some point is that nothing will ever make us “happy” if we can’t choose to be happy in spite of our circumstances. Who we are, and why we’re here, is something we can set out to discover, by trying new things and asking God for guidance. 🙂

      1. Thanks for your reply and yes, I’d agree – I discovered a great quote which really helped me in my “who am I” struggle:

        “Traveller, there are no paths. Paths are made by walking.”

        I think we have to have the courage to find our own paths and not be discouraged by others. No path is wrong, but every path is ours.

  7. 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.

    I totally hear you on this, life can be such a dream-crusher sometimes; the last few years have been a testament to this for me. And I do find myself sitting and wondering sometimes, “Wow, how did I go from being this optimistic and striving girl to this jaded and verge-of-despairing individual?” But I think I’m getting there in finally understanding how this is a learning process; just need to work a bit on what you mentioned in your last bit about what stays and what goes 😉

    1. It takes a LONG time to work through some things. Because of some bad experiences, it took me years to overcome a bad opinion of certain people and certain behaviors. God finally kicked that door down and said, “Are you going to listen to me now, or are you going to be jaded and miserable?” I think the hardest thing is, though, having reality stomp all over our dreams. To dream of being a best-selling author and be turned down a thousand times by different agents… to want to be a ballet dancer and break your ankle… to look forward all your life to becoming a psychologist only not be able to afford to go to school for it … these moments can break us, or they can make us look at life with new eyes and ask, “Well, what can I make possible?”

  8. “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?”
    I often wonder precisely the opposite. What would I be like if God hadn’t got hold of me at a very young age (so young I don’t remember it) and influenced the direction of my life and interests and behaviors? I kind of shudder to contemplate what kind of person I would be without His influence.

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