A friend and I have had a series of heart-to-hearts over the past week.
Among many topics, we discussed growing up, regrets, the past, how we have changed, and how we view ourselves.
As human beings, we are constantly changing. Sometimes we change for the better; sometimes for the worse; or sometimes, we're just different. It happens all the time: in big ways and in small ways, physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally. But, really, we don't notice the changes in ourselves until someone else points it out to us or asks a question that really makes you stop and think.
On one hand, I still feel like I am 17, just a kid playing dress-up. I keep thinking one of these days the "adults" are going to realize I don't really belong at the grown-ups table just yet. On the other hand, I bristle with indignation anytime someone makes the inaccurate assumption in my very senior work environment that my youth means I am inexperienced and unqualified to answer a question or complete a project autonomously. Fortunately, the poor schmucks usually only make that mistake once. I am aware that there's still a lot I need to learn, but I know a lot more than I give myself credit for.
I have learned to love myself. That's a biggie. I know that I am not perfect, nor do I want to be. As Billy Joel said, I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints. Saints are boring. I've learned that I like myself much better when I don't try so damn hard. My imperfections make me the sassy, spunky self that I am.
I have learned to like, and, even more importantly, to respect my body. The crazy hair that can't decide if it is curly or straight; the eyes that can never decide what color they are; the ears that need help to hear; the imperfect smile that I can rarely keep off my face; the hourglass curves; the scars that I've earned; the legs that get me where I want to go; the cute little birthmark on my left foot that I love (random, I know); the feet that like to trip me when I dance; they all add up to a body that is beautiful in its imperfections. I realize I will never be "model beautiful," but I am beautiful just the same. (I've also learned that it is possible, and indeed a good thing, to be both beautiful and intelligent.) I've also learned that my body likes regular work-outs, enough sleep, and healthy foods. My body treats me better when I am good to it - both physically and mentally (like when I'm standing in front of the mirror). I am still learning how to like regular work-outs and healthy food.
I still do not believe in regrets. Life is too short to regret. Yes, like anyone, I have things I would say or do differently if the opportunity presented itself. However, I have made my peace with it, and I don't regret those things. The good, the bad, the mistakes, the ordinary - they have all helped make me who I am today. Since I love who I am (and who I am becoming), I can't regret the things that helped me get to where and who I am today. Just the same, I sincerely apologize to anyone I may have hurt along the way.
I have learned how to fall in love without losing myself. Ladies will understand the significance of this one. All too often we change ourselves to impress or keep a man, and in the end, we lose. As I learned how to love myself, I fell in love with a great man who loves me for who I am. In our relationship, I am completely at ease - with him, with our relationship, with myself - and I find that despite how amazing I am, My Love brings out the very best in me. I love him for that. I also love him for a myriad of other equally wonderful things.
I now, after all this time, know that it is okay not to have a plan, as long as you still have dreams to pursue. Life always works out the way it is meant to in the end, so there is no point in driving myself crazy because I don't know what comes next. When I think of all I've done in the last five years, I honestly can say that none of it has been according to the "plan" I had for my life. I like this life better than the one I had planned. So, I'm trying now to learn how to like not having a plan. Accepting and liking are two different things. I'll get there eventually. You can't cure yourself of Type A personality traits overnight you know...
I am a work in progress. I am okay with that.