Thursday, January 23, 2014
Let People Change Without Bringing Up The Past
Changing is hard enough on its own without also having to deal with those who want to keep reminding you of who you were. How can we expect people to improve and be better if we keep digging up their past?
It's not an easy thing for me to change. Not only do I have to contend with 30+ years of conditioning and neuroses, but also my insecurities of how it would seem to others if I started acting differently. I like to seem like a smooth ride so even if I'm spiraling downward in the middle of some social situation and want desperately to snap out of it, I won't because I don't want to come out of left field with my sudden mood change. Yes, even if it's for the better.
This also goes for my personality in general. I've always felt like I've had these roles to play and continue do so even after I've grown out of them because I feel it's expected of me. With family, I'm the quiet, sensitive, brooding type who could get sad and/or frustrated at any moment. I hold things inside only to unleash it all when it finally bubbles over the edge. With friends, I'm the snarky, sarcastic one with a mean streak with grad school classmates going so far as to say that I was the girl without a soul. I laughed along because at least I was being noticed for something instead of sticking to the shadows.
Over the years I've realized that I'm happiest when I'm none of those things, but rather when I'm confident, silly, loving and carefree. Yes, I still have a mouth on me, but I'm also a mush ball. And it all feels quite nice.
The trouble comes when I hang out with people who met me during a certain phase and want to hold me to that Dorkys. How hard it is when I muster up the guts to let my new traits through - the one that now likes affection, experimenting and being open to new adventures - only to be met with incredulousness and teasing. No matter how playful the comments, my knee jerk reaction is to retreat, defend and hide that piece of my personality I dared let out. And immediately after I think, "Why the hell am I so defensive when I'm just trying to be myself?"
So instead of reminding someone of how they used to be back in the day, rehashing a past offense they committed or pointing out a time when they were so opposed to whatever it is they're loving now, just let them be. Encourage them, ask questions, be curious, nurture their exploration, be kind. Don't be a hindrance to someone's personal development or try to trap them in a bubble simply because you can't handle a tweak to your dynamic. We're all just trying to figure ourselves out because who honestly expects someone to grow older without their personality, habits and interests also changing over time?