If you were asked, “What kind of person were you in middle school?,” chances are you’d cringe and make inhuman noises in an effort to block out the flood of humiliating memories. No one looks back on their childhood or early adolescence and actually thinks, “Hey, I was a really cool kid,” or “No, I didn’t do anything embarrassing at all.” We all have something (or many things) we regret about who we were or what we did in the past. We’re constantly growing, changing, and finding out new things about ourselves.
Think about your identity for a moment. Are you a student? What kind of friends do you have? Are you dating anyone? Where are you from?
Your answers (and more) make up your identity, or who you are and how you and others see you.
Identities change throughout our lives just like we do. We are not the people we were in middle school or high school, nor in twenty years are we going to be the same people we are now. We live in a state of constant transition: from adolescence to adulthood, one job to the next, one city to another.
Sometimes, though, what we find out about ourselves makes us fear for the future. It makes us second-guess ourselves and the direction in which our life is going – especially when we realize things about ourselves that go deeper than a favorite style of clothing or Snapchat filter. Sometimes we discover things that make us change our perceptions of ourselves, that make us question who we are as people or that send our world spiralling into an abyss of confusion and fear.
And it’s okay that occasionally our deeper identities – those that we think are more firmly rooted within us than, say, our favorite color – aren’t what we thought they were. Maybe we don’t always have the same political views, or maybe we’re less ignorant than we were when we were younger. Or, maybe we discover that the gender of the person we would like as a partner isn’t what we thought it would be. Maybe we discover that our own gender isn’t what we thought it would be.
It’s all okay.
Because if we weren’t actively pursuing deeper self-discovery, who would we be? What would our lives be like if we were still the same person we were in middle school? We’d all be miserable.
Life is about experimenting, about finding out exactly what makes us unique, and change is a sign of life, a sign of growth, a sign that we are becoming better. Change means we are one step closer to uncovering the truth of the depth of our uniqueness.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Have a little fun. So you’re a little different now than you were before, or you’re trying something new. So, what?
You are in control of your identity. Only you can decide who you are.
Take a deep breath, and don’t forget to smile. It will all be okay.
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