I always tell people: you can't really choose your friends in high school. With some life experience and moments of self-awareness, I've realized that you can't really choose yourself either. There are so many parts of me that I never shared with anyone due to a lack of acceptance, conversation and/or awareness that there were indeed people around me who also loved things Broadway musicals and listening to podcasts.
Coming to college, I never thought that every part of my personality could be entertained or fulfilled; I assumed I would have to keep quiet about some of my greatest passions for the sake of others' comfortability. I was so used to living up to the standard of normalcy that was around me, that I had gotten used to the cookie-cutter version of myself I had created. It wasn't like I changed myself for others, more so just kept certain aspects of how I was to myself. I figured it would be easier to go along with the typical actions/expressions of those around me; that way I would never be questioned or judged for the more "out there" things that I actually liked.
Here's the craziest part: I genuinely thought that those private pieces of myself were unacceptable and odd. I didn't imagine ever meeting someone else who would be totally cool with spending a two-hour-long car ride listening to interviews of John Mayer, or someone who wanted to listen to the entire Hamilton soundtrack all the way through (which is quite the task, I might add). But I did meet those people. And not only that, I met people who are at the very least willing to learn more about my interests and to tell me about their own--quirky though they may be. I have friends now that actually want to hear my Garage-Band recordings of me singing, and people that get excited to read my writing. One of my best friends really likes opera--like knows some songs in Italian by heart--and isn't afraid to (sometimes jokingly) sing it for me.
These little niceties have made me feel like a new woman; one who is able to open her eyes to other kinds of cultures, hobbies, and ideas. In return, I feel free in that I can be openly enthusiastic about the things I used to hide from the rest of the world. I feel as though the more I unveil my true self, the more I really love and appreciate who I've grown to be. And I hope I will continue to grow and change, to make myself a little uncomfortable at times, and to have no regrets when I look back and how I spent these pinnacle years of my life.