No matter where you go, you are what you are playerAnd you can try to change but that's just the top layerMan, you was who you was 'fore you got hereOnly God can judge me, so I'm goneEither love me, or leave me alone~Jay-Z, Public Service Announcement
Change is quite possibly the most difficult and scariest thing a person can do. It is also the easiest thing, especially when done subconsciously. People change everyday and throughout their lifetimes. Some set out deliberately to change, others look back after the years have gone by to see the small changes they have made. Change needs a catalyst, a trigger. That trigger could be anywhere from a death to a break up to a failed class to a move across country or even just across town. What holds us back from change? What makes us more open to change?
I personally have changed so much over the course of my 28 years. As I child, I was messy, needy, and prone to temper-tantrums when I didn't get my way. Okay, so I haven't changed that much...! I was always quiet, but I really blossomed in high school when I found fellow crazy-odd people who understood what it meant to be crazy-odd. I changed myself from the painfully shy tween to an all out social butterfly, flitting from group to group. I still didn't clean my room and I'd get amazingly upset if I broke something, like a dish or a drinking glass. In college, I started as that painfully shy kid but again quickly blossomed as I met others who were as crazy as I am. In my early years, I was still that messy kid who had stuff all over the place even though the roommate said nothing and I wore my jeans for a month without washing them but would sit on my unmade bed.
I'd say my first major transformation started in my third year at college. My catalyst: Hurricane Katrina and a slob of a boyfriend. Katrina struck at the beginning of the school year and suddenly I was inundated with family and belongings from home that were salvaged. I had to put the belongings somewhere in my apartment, which required it to stay clean. My boyfriend came from a messy family. I'd never seen so much backed up laundry in my life. Unfortunately, he came from a situation where his mother did all the housework like cooking and cleaning while catering to her idle husband and children, all after working a 12 hour day. So when Stephen got his own apartment, he no longer had his mom to clean up after him, so he didn't clean up after himself. The smell of week old sweaty laundry is disgusting. The smell of week old sweaty male is also disgusting. If I wanted to spend time in that apartment, I had to clean up or else I would puke. This led me to keeping my own apartment and person clean so that I would never be like that.
My second major transformation was more of a snowball effect with several catalysts: living with my Granny, moving out and living with my boyfriend and his son, then moving in with my parents not long before my Granny died. Living with my Granny was great, in retrospect. She was a bit pushy and always had some tidbit of advice about cleaning or life or whatever. I filed them away, ignored, like any grand kid would do. It broke her heart when I moved out against her advice. In fact, it still hurts knowing how I did that to her. But I did it anyways and moved into a household where suddenly if I wanted it done, I had to do it myself. I started using all of the tips that Granny shared with me. I began to understand that while cleanliness may not be godliness, it certainly is much healthier for you. By the time I moved out of that house, I was a full-blown neat-freak. At my parents' house, especially after Granny passed two months later, I was obsessed with cleaning my "suite." At work, I became known for my precision in completing tasks. Let me tell ya, a gift wrap clerk is the best job for a neat-freak.
Unfortunately, it was around this time that my changes began to get in the way of my life. I pushed away people that I cared about because I was so much more concerned about being clean and in control of my surroundings. But at the same time, I've been consistently told not to change who I am. That's rather contradictory, no yes? How can I stay the same when the person I am is not sustainable in a meaningful relationship? I was told very bluntly that if I don't change, I should expect to spend the rest of my life alone. I can't even tell you how much that hurt then and still hurts now. But he's right. And so I've found the catalyst for my latest transformation. Changing deliberately is amazingly hard! I'm having to go against everything my brain has been wired to do for the past however many years. My changes run the gamut from not freaking out over my mother putting seasonings between the pizza and the pan to driving more aggressively (which is actually super fun). I've even started a blog to follow my journey. But all of my changes are really minor and only on the surface, see the Jay-Z quote above. The real meat of the matter is how I interact and react to other people. Which is really hard to do when I don't have an other person to practice with! I have to learn that what I think is best for someone is not necessarily what they would consider best for themselves and that it's not the end of the world. I've been trying to work on this for quite some time now. Obviously I haven't succeeded, but I've had some success. As Macklemore says: "We press play, don't press pause/Progress, march on."
Some people say you can't change who you are. I saw we are changing who we are all the time, slowly or quickly, consciously or subconsciously. At some level you have to accept whatever changes you make; they are not forced on you. It's up to you to decide if, how, why, for whom, you should and want to change. Me, I'm changing for love.