It’s no secret that I love words and phrases and expressions. I love dissecting them. I love orchestrating them. I love playing with them until I get them in the right order to best express myself and the heart that beats inside my chest. In fact, sometimes I’ve been known to spend a solid hour constructing one single paragraph—ask my closest writer friends; they think it’s crazy. Mainly because they do the same thing. Crazy attracts crazy.
But as much as I love words, there are some that I’m not a big fan of. The phrase, “you’ve changed” is one of them.
Partly because it’s always said as a negative. Partly because it’s normally based on assumptions. Mostly because it’s usually said by those who take very little time to check up on the claim.
But if we’re talking about me–I guess sure, I’ve changed.
I’ve changed in several ways.
Especially if you’re judging by outward appearances.
- I have a different job than I used to have before. Once upon a time I worked as a substitute teacher for my local school system. The demands of writing and deadlines and juggling all the other things I have going on in my world have made that situation impossible anymore. But guess what? As much as I love my job, sometimes I miss my old life. In the solitary world that constitutes the way I make a living, sometimes I miss those people. Sometimes I just miss talking and laughing in the teacher’s lounge. I especially miss donuts on Friday.
- I drive a different car than I used to drive before. A nicer car. A car that was bought for me by my husband when I was away for the weekend. I left town with a white Honda sitting in my driveway and came home to a dark gray Lexus that I didn’t know I was getting. But guess what? I was fine with the Honda. I was fine with the Chrysler that came before it. And frankly, the Plymouth and Pontiac I drove before those were fine cars too. Because I don’t care about cars, only about getting across town without breaking down on the side of the road (I’m talking to you, black Volvo that I will never buy again).
- I don’t have as much time to hang out as I had before. After waking my children up and packing school lunches and showering and slapping on make-up and driving my kids to school and feeding the dog and cat and cat and answering emails and updating all forms of social media and writing a new blog and answering interview questions and writing and grabbing lunch and editing and making phone calls and writing again and picking up my children from school and listening to stories of their days and signing school forms and unpacking backpacks and making sure homework gets done and making dinner and giving baths and writing again until midnight…there isn’t much time to hang out. But guess what? I miss people. Every once in a while I’ll text a friend to walk with me or have breakfast with me just to have adult contact at least once or twice a week. The rest of the time, I text people. I hang out with my computer. I spend time with my kids. Time is going fast. They are growing even faster. I don’t want to miss any of it, and they’re my priority.
- I have a different shape than I used to have before. I lost weight a few years ago. I’ve worked to keep it off since then. But guess what? I’m fine with that. And that’s all I have to say on that topic.
So judging from outward appearances, I’ve changed. It’s true. Look at me, and that’s what you’ll see. But look inside me, and this is what you’ll see:
- A girl who is plagued with doubt—both professionally and personally. A girl who isn’t sure she’s doing much right, who doesn’t know if she can maintain this pace, who worries that she’s a bad friend and a bad mom and generally bad at everything. And guess what? I’ve struggled with this forever.
- A girl who cries easily because she is a little too sensitive for her own good. A girl who cries easily because she has a hard time dealing with the pain of others. A girl who cries easily because she just saw an especially touching commercial. And guess what? I’ve struggled with this forever.
- A girl who likes inappropriate humor because crass jokes are the funniest. A girl who sometimes gets in trouble for the things she puts out in public because what she finds funny sometimes crosses lines. But guess what? I love to laugh. I am my father’s daughter, and I like the way he raised me. I’ve always been this way. I’ll just blame it on his influence.
- A girl who shops at Target and Gap and Old Navy because she can’t bring herself to spend much money on clothes she’s going to wear while sitting at a desk all day. A girl who balks at paying full price for anything and will look and look until she finds a better deal somewhere else. A girl who fixes nearly every broken thing herself because she doesn’t like to be told she can’t do it—she’s going to try. I’ll call a plumber only after I prove to myself that I’m inept; which is almost always. But still, don’t tell me I can’t. Because guess what? This is the way I’ve always been.
- A girl who will keep your kids and babysit your pets and pour you a cup of coffee and listen to your stories and get excited for your good news and be sad for your bad news and apologize when she wrongs you and worry that you’re still upset and get mad when someone hurts you and get happy when someone loves you. Because guess what? I love people. The good things, the bad things, the in-between things. There’s good and bad and in-between in me, and I’d like to be loved for it too. I’ve been this way my whole life. I assume it’s the way I’ll always be.
So yes, I’ve changed. Especially if you’re looking at me from a distance.
But up close? I’m the same girl I’ve always been, save a few minor adjustments. Then again, all of us need to adjust from time to time, right? After all, even caterpillars sprout wings. Even flowers find the courage to bloom. Even the barren trees of winter grow fruit in spring. If they didn’t, where would that leave them?
When you look at it that way, maybe a little change isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe some types of change are actually their own kind of beautiful.