"You've Changed So Much..."

"You've Changed So Much..."

For those of you who think you know me better than I know myself, unfortunately you’re wrong.
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I hear that a lot.

When I get into a conversation with anyone who has known me for 5+ years, there seems to be a disconnect between the person standing in front of them, and they person they knew. Well, that’s because there is. For most of my life, I was described as creative and ambitious. I was constantly involved in one project or another. Throughout my childhood, I performed in theatre and during my summers I went to a workshop program every day that trained me in vocal technique, acting, singing, and dancing. I performed in and coached improv teams in high school. I was a part of two choirs and every school production, often playing the lead role. At 19 years old, I directed, produced and acted in a reimagined production of Othello involving in white supremacist gang in England in the late 80s. When I was 20, I received a Best Actress collegiate award nomination for my work in Tom Stoppard’s Arcadia, as well as receiving the same nomination again that year for a production of Chekhov’s the Seagull. Then, when I was 21 I was chosen to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, England to study both performance and academics. When I came back, I performed as Lady Macbeth in Macbeth for a running production, receiving again the same nomination. During that production, I compiled and directed a Shakespearian vignette production, working alongside others to write an entirely new show based within his work. I wrote songs, music and designed an entirely new concept. With help from my wonderful cast and crew, naturally. I did all of this while working toward my undergraduate degree, continually writing poetry, music, working on two novels, helping lead worship in my church, dabbling in photography, painting, singing, and voluntarily diving into several lecture series from several Ivy League universities to further my education in what I felt to be key areas. In short, I was ambitious and very often described as uniquely “creative”. I don't mean to sound like I am bragging or that I am proud. I think that, during these years, I was only half of a person. Not really me. In my mind, there isn't much to brag about.

Now, I work in an office doing, in essence, glorified data entry. I have meetings and quarterly goals and I talk about project plans all day. And I am happier than I have ever been.

There are a lot of people that don’t understand that. But, what they truly don’t understand is that the core reason I was so “creative” was because I was desperately lonely, dangerously unhinged, constantly unsatisfied, and in my mind, irreparably broken. I cried myself to sleep. And I cried when I woke up. My platonic relationships felt disconnected, and I never dated or engaged in romantic relationships at all. I was deeply depressed, plagued by constant panic attacks, and eternally asking God what was wrong with me. I hated myself for being unable to heal what felt so broken. And I hated myself lot. That is what fueled my work. That was my muse.

It was unbearable and life became unlivable. And all the drive, the creativity, the love I had for so many things… it just died. I was emptied out. The pain became so strong that I had nothing to express anymore. It was all consuming.

So, I started over. I rejected the dreams I had always had for my life when I realized why I had them. I wanted to be an actor because I desperately needed someone to validate me, and because I wanted to badly to pretend to be someone else, someone loved. That is not a reason to become an actor. The only reason to do that is because you love the work itself, not because you need anything from it. Even theatre itself became almost detestable to me. It seemed illogical, strange and archaic. I couldn’t understand why I ever was involved in it to begin with. When I was honest with myself, I realized that… deep down… I hated theatre as a medium. And I hated the culture surrounding entertainment. I hated the whole industry. It made me unhappy.

I felt very lost. And very guilty. Because no one seemed to understand why I was walking away. Well, almost no one. A very wonderful, very ingenious professor that had been a confident in my undergraduate years understood. And some others. But so many that had known me since I was a child branded me a certain way, and when I began to reject that branding, it confused them.

I feel that I deal with that as a constant, those who knew me throughout my youth were sure I would grow up to “be someone” and my sudden shift in focus was (understandably) hard to comprehend. To them, it seemed so sudden, so fast. But it wasn’t. It was a long time coming. In their minds, I changed. But the truth is, I just accepted the reality of who I am and what I really want. I want a day job. I want a family. I want to be a wife and a mother and have a dog and worry about my kids and attend PTA meetings and run a household. I didn’t want grandiosity after all.

I spent my entire life running away from my greatest fear: normalcy. I needed to be special, to be something. Because, in my mind, no one would love me otherwise. So, there I was. 22. A graduate with a degree in something I ended up hating. Unemployed. Frustrated. Physically unwell from the emotional stress of my family situation (my grandmother was dying of cancer at the time). Consistently confronted from the very real tension of having no idea what I was supposed to do with my life. Confused as all hell and constantly battling severe panic attacks. And, look at that. God sends me this guy, who becomes a safe place when nothing in my life felt safe. Who didn't know me well when I was striving to be "something" and could accept where I was now. Who didn't seem to care that I was so lost, who wanted to walk with me as I rebuilt myself.

So, yes. I have changed. I have grown. I have rejected the old. I work at a desk and I spend my days fussing about quarterly goals, client needs, content carryover, analytics and SEO optimization. I take walks and go grocery shopping and attend church on Sundays. I virtually never do anything I used to. I don’t write anymore, really. Except stuff like this. I take pictures sometimes, but not often. I never go to the theatre and I have no interest in acting. I enjoy playing tennis on Saturday’s at the public courts. I got to bed at 9:30 every night and keep a bottle of Tums at my desk, should I experience indigestion.

My life is very, very normal. And I wouldn’t trade it for my old life for anything.

This is who I am. This saltine, plain, boring, normal me is me. So, for those of you who think you know me better than I know myself, unfortunately, you’re wrong. No offense, but I kept most of you out, anyway. The person you knew wasn’t me. Just an attempt at me. Trust me when I tell you I am infinitely better now. Trust me when I tell you that I am completely sane, normalized, calmed, healed and authentic in my decisions now. I am getting married to a man that knows me better than anyone else. I am in a job that offers both growth and friendship within itself. And I don’t cry anymore.

I promise I am okay. Don’t worry about my future just because it wasn’t what you expected it would be. Nothing in life ever is.

Cover Image Credit: Samuel Dixon

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8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.
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Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.


7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

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Part 1: Necessary Changes

One of my favorite movies is "Fried Green Tomatoes" with Kathy Bates. In the movie Bates' character Evelyn Couch says, "Someone helped put a mirror up in front of my face, and I didn't like what I saw one bit. And you know what I did? I changed." I know the feeling.

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I looked in the mirror over the weekend and didn't like what I saw.

The person I saw looking back at me is petty, selfish, manipulative, and unattractive. It wasn't that I hated what I saw, but I definitely didn't like what I saw either. It's a surreal feeling, looking at yourself through a critical lens, and it doesn't make you feel good in any way shape or form.

The image that I see of myself is not how I want others to perceive me. I want to be someone that people look at and see kindness, compassion, strength, and confidence.

I have enough general life experience to know that these types of changes aren't going to happen overnight, and not all of them will be physical; most of these will have to happen from the inside, from within myself.

When you find out you are all broken and damaged, it's hard to know where to start putting the pieces back together. I figured the best place to start would be the most literal: my actual insides; so, I decided to embark on a deep-cleansing journey to get all of the toxins out of my body, from the inside out.

I found this book on 10-day green smoothie detox stashed away in the dark corner of my bookshelf. The science behind it seems accurate and legitimate. By eliminating certain foods, your body is able to detox itself off of chemicals and foods that are slowing down your metabolism; the smoothies are specifically designed with combinations of foods that help restart your metabolism. Part of the detox process is getting rid of all dependencies on caffeine, alcohol, and sugar.

Every day you are given the recipe for a specific smoothie; you make the smoothie (about 40 ounces) and sip on it throughout the day whenever you get hungry. Every smoothie is a combination of leafy greens, water, fruit, and flax seeds. If you do happen to get hungry throughout the day, you are encouraged to eat raw nuts, hard boiled eggs, and a wide variety of crunchy green vegetables. There is also a detox tea that you have first thing in the morning, but other than that no other beverages are allowed except water.

I know that this is only the beginning of a very long, emotional, and draining journey. But I think I'm at the point in my life where I have to make these changes. I have to put my pieces together, I have to become a normal functioning adult, I have to find out who I am. I think that this is the perfect way to start.

For the next 10 days I am going to be documenting my experiences, how I'm feeling, what my emotions are doing, and any results that I see.

Stay tuned!

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