Lately, I've been on a bit of an Odyssey.
(Pun COMPLETELY intended.)
It all started when my mom and I cleaned out a closet together. As she dutifully sorted through a mess of things and I helped by supervising, she pulled out a very old notebook from when I was a small child. I took it, not thinking it would hold anything very interesting. But upon reading its contents, I was quite happily proven wrong.
The notebook held several stories I had written when I was eight years old.
And they were all gold.
I really don't want to understate how amazing these stories were from a comedy standpoint. As I read them aloud, recording them for my friends to enjoy, I genuinely couldn't stop laughing. The entire plot of one story revolved around our substitute teacher being a witch that I melted to death with maple syrup. That's not even getting into the fanfiction that I thought was revolutionary at the time. I was positively reduced to stitches and I loved every second of it.
This led me to unearth more old stories of mine. While I've thrown out a lot of my old writing for the sake of space, there are many things I wrote in middle school and beyond that I found and glanced through again. The older the story was, the harder I laughed at it, until I noticed the strangest thing happening.
As the quality of my stories improved overall, I laughed less at the silly narrative twists and felt myself getting embarrassed by them.
At first, it seemed like the normal reaction to have. Eight-year-olds don't have the sort of social awareness and expertise that fifteen-year-olds have, so of course, I should hold my fifteen-year-old self to a higher standard. I felt as though it was OK to question my state of mind at that age and judge myself like I was an adult that should have known better.
Being embarrassed just seemed to make sense.
Then, as I thought about it a little more, I started to realize that it was a pride issue.
The stories I wrote four years ago are objectively hilarious and stupid, but admitting that is so difficult to do when I feel like they reflect on my current abilities.
They were written so recently that I somehow worry they'll be mistaken for what I'm capable of doing today, which is ridiculous. Four years can do so much to change a person, especially if they've spent that entire time practicing and improving. Hell, I've written things months apart that show a drastic increase in quality. I'm making progress all the time.
When you're always learning and growing, it can be really easy to outgrow your old-self before it's even fully registered in your mind. You may not think it's necessary, but sometimes I think it does us all some good to remember, "Hey, I'm not that person anymore. I do different things now, and that's OK."
The things I used to do were sort of silly. It's OK to laugh about it. Laughing about it feels better than being embarrassed.