Saturday, December 5, 2009

My Memory

Back when I was in high school, so long ago when my future self was a blank canvas, I was still under the delusion that I knew how my life would turn out. I truly believed that I could imagine what my future held, and there were no obstacles to achieving the life exactly as I had it all planned out. All I had to do was work hard, and put myself in the right place at the right time, and the opportunities would simply present themselves to me like a gift on a silver platter.

It's so funny how, when we are young, we are ready to hurry up and get to the next phase of our life. Yet, when we are older, we reminisce about the days when things were simpler, easier, less complicated, and more fun. I think I (maybe you, too) tend to forget any memories of my childhood that were so catastrophic at the time. Being teased relentlessly by the "mean girls", a daily battle with acne outbreaks, having truly physical heartaches about my puppy love not giving me the time of day, it all seems so silly now in retrospect.

During middle school, then junior high, then high school, I was sure that I would be a different person in the future. I would be cooler. More sophisticated. Very classy. Elegant. Even-tempered and witty. My bad habits would dissolve away and I would become the person who everyone felt comfortable around, everyone wanted to confide in, and everyone wanted to invite to their parties.

Well, I certainly did turn out to be a different. But sophisticated? Elegant? Even-tempered? Uh, not so much.

I never really appreciated who I was at any phase of my life. As a child I was full of fire and a bit of a tomboy. I loved to dig in the dirt and ride my banana-seat bike while wearing my accordion-pleated Easter dress. As a teenager I was very sensitive to my friends' feelings and I enjoyed being a sort-of "mother hen". I also had a quick wit and was told by some that they did not dare engage me in a verbal fight. As a young adult (college age girl) I stretched my wings and took chances. I finally felt comfortable breaking away from the pack in order to learn how to be comfortable in my own skin.

And yet, during each phase of my life, I was filled with self-doubt and criticism of my seemingly endless faults. Only now can I see myself as the wonderful person that I was. I grew, and I changed, and I matured. But each phase of ME was good. I know that now.

So, this has made me think about the phase of life I'm in right now. Again, I have trouble finding beauty in who I am presently. I criticize myself and find endless faults that need correction and forgiveness. But if hindsight can give any guidance for the future, I think my time would be better spent getting past my shortcomings and embracing my strengths. Of course, this is easier said than done. But realizing the negative thinking I'm up against is half the battle, right?

I have a good friend who is reading this right now. She knows who she is, I don't need to name her. She has always had a better memory than me. She knows who I was as a teenager, as a young adult, as an adult, and as a mother. She often tells me, "Remember back in Biology class when you said...." or "I can remember that you always told me you would...." Having her for a friend is so valuable to me. She sees me as I don't see myself, and she's able to give me perspective when my hindsight isn't 20/20. She can tell me what I REALLY was like, even though I may have been a worse critic of myself. She helps me keep my memory in check.

I hope you have a friend who remembers the authentic, genuine you. It helps keep us honest about who we were, who we are, and how far we've come.


Anna See said...

This is so true! I wish it were easier to cherish who we are right now!

...and for us to remember that those easy times in the past didn't seem so easy at the time. I have a few friends like the one you mentioned, and I am so grateful.

Foursons said...

I think it is human nature to think the grass is greener on the other side and strive for that. It is very difficult to be content in the place we are because we always think there is something better out there. There is good and bad in that way of thinking.

Sturgmom said...

To live intentionally in this present moment is something I strive for, yet never seem to obtain. Like you, I see all the things I should/could be doing differently. I'm not sure if anyone ever really gets there, but I think we can all try!

Acne warrior said...
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Emily said...

I've had the same things...grass is always greener! And you're right...having a friend like that who has real perspective on you and who you are is priceless!

Bear and Bones Mama said...

I stand by what I said the other day, bad grammer and all :-)

But I also have a friend like that. She called me late Thursday night last week, because her mom had a stroke. She said she needed to talk to someone who really knew her, her family, and her mom. We've been friends since we were 13 or 14. We haven't seen each other in years, living on different sides of the country. We don't even get to talk too often, with the time change and kids and life. But we are there for each other, 100%. She's my rock.