It took years, but the unthinkable happened: I learned to hate the things about me I once loved. I learned to cringe at the parts of me that made me soar. Made me feel alive.
It didn’t happen all at once. No, nothing like that. Instead, I learned it by watching certain people react to me — and ignoring the way that others did.
I internalized the reactions of people who found me and my behavior unfortunate and embarrassing and dismissed those who found me to be a breath of fresh air.
And little by little, I edited away the parts that made a certain minority cringe. On one hand, this was advantageous. I was well liked, found I could navigate just about any social situation without a hitch.
But it came with a huge downside: I felt empty inside. Like an imposter had taken over my life and left nothing left for the person I actually was.
I wrote previously of midlife crisis. Because most of my friends are having them (for context, they’re clustered in age mostly in the 35-45 range, with outliers on both sides of that). Literally, everyone I’m close to.
I know the pandemic doesn’t help. It has a way of making people’s worlds smaller. And weirder, but not in the fun way. A way of providing the right atmosphere to overthink about legacy, life, and what it all amounts to.
Anyway, for the longest time I was the sole person in my friends group not having a midlife crisis. And then it dawned on me: This was probably not a good sign. Because it seemed like the crises others around me were going through were spurred on by a hunger for meaning, for fulfillment.
And I wasn’t hungry. But not because I had found meaning or because I was particularly fulfilled.
No, it was because I had given up. Because once upon a time, important someones had mocked me for striving for myself. For being whimsical, quirky, artistic.
And these past few months, I’ve been working slowly towards accepting that maybe it’s okay to want more. Maybe it’s okay to return to that weird girl I was once upon a time — and to trust that the right people will not only tolerate her, but love her.