Friday, April 17, 2015

To and from my 22-year-old self

A couple weeks ago, my mom brought over some mail for me, including some old alumni magazines from my high school. I was flipping through absentmindedly, looking for art journaling material, when I got to the Class Notes section. The magazine was from 2012 and I was just starting to think, "look at all these dorks who wrote in" when I stumbled across my own submission.

Almost nothing is as cringeworthy as discovering things you wrote about yourself a short few years ago. Like the alt-text of a favorite old xkcd comic says: "I'm glad I'm not the clueless person I was five years ago, but now I don't want to get any older."

I kind of love that I came right out and said that I had no idea what I was doing - there's a brassiness in that that I admire, especially coming from the high school valedictorian. At the same time, I want to say Dude. Relax. You do not need to justify the fact that you don't have a job, or justify the fact that you have no plans to head to grad school anytime soon. It is not "a reprieve from formal education." It is just living.

It is refreshing, though, to realize that I really am different at 25 than at 22. It can be hard to see those changes piling up from close-in, and sometimes I think I haven't changed much. In some ways, what I feared at 23 has come to pass - time has indeed moved very quickly since starting that job. So I appreciate the reminder that I express myself differently and interact with the world in different ways than I did when I was 22. I am not completely transformed, but I am just a bit more grown-up.

It's also oddly liberating to think that no matter what I write these days, chances are I will be embarrassed by it in three or five or twenty years. The goal can't be to polish everything to absolute flawlessness - because what sounds perfect to me now may very well sound stilted or forced or cringe-worthy in the future anyway. So I've just gotta keep doing my best where I am with what I have - and let my future self decide what to make of it all.

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