Why You Need To Stop Reinventing Yourself (and why it's a good thing)
This is the start of a brand new chapter.
This is a new beginning.
I’m starting my life over.
The new me begins today.
I’ve thought all of those things on lots and lots of occasions. And you know what? It’s never worked out for me. It has lasted maybe two days, and I’ve slipped, ended up feeling like shit and giving up.
Examples? Hell yes!
When I was 12, I would bulk print out all these healthy eating and confidence articles from the internet. And I would make a decision. I would start that day and would decide to be a healthy confident person. It would be a new beginning! (Didn’t work - just a lot of wasted trees unfortunately).
I went to see Mean Girls in the cinema and decided that the next day, I would be a hot version of myself and that I could have that summer camp transformation (you know that myth that in a period of six weeks, a girl grows perfectly rounded breasts, perfect hair and clear skin?) overnight. Overnight! It would be a new beginning! (Didn’t work, and now I have a much deeper appreciation of the irony in all this. I mean, I think I missed the point of the film the first time, right?!)
I started an adult job and bought a really nice bag, a professional organiser and heels. And black trousers. TROUSERS. I mean, who the fuck was I kidding?! I wanted to be a professional woman with a proper job. That’s one thing - this fantasy of me looking like I ate the Cosmo Bible for work clothes, however is quite another thing. I’m never going to look like I belong in Sex and the City, and I’d never want to.
And I’ve done the same things for morning routines, creative routines, and countless healthy eating things and other shit like that. And they’ve never worked.
I wanted to to swish my wand and erase the person I was in favour of this more attractive, more organised, more everything version of myself.
I wasn’t opening a new chapter. I didn't even want a new chapter. I wanted a new fucking book.
I wanted to become this completely different person, with new habits, new patterns and new everything.
And while it wasn’t obvious at the time (like most things aren’t), I was trying to change from a place of self loathing. And I was completely willing to deny the way I work, my quirks any past experiences.
And it took a long time to realise this, but it’s since I realised that the person I’ve been my whole life is still going to be there for new adventures and new experiences that things started to change. That new chapters are new chapters, and I’m way more focused on finding joy as myself, being present for new experiences and finding fun and creative ways to do everyday things.
I’m always going to be the person who has a tendency to do things last minute, to cram wayyy too much in any bag, to burst into song whenever the radio comes on, and have flyaway hair. Sure, I can find new ways of doing things, learn organisational skills, practice better time keeping, but I can’t just erase parts of me that have been that way since I can remember.
I’m always going to be dressed bright with clothes that don’t match. I’m always going to favour dry hair shampoo and an extra twenty minutes in bed. My jewellery is never going to be dainty and I’m never going to someone who’s described as graceful and quiet.
And now I wouldn’t change that for the world. But it’s taken one hell of a journey, a bucket load of self loathing and a whole lot of kindness to myself to get here.
I would perhaps change losing important post-it notes and running round the house like a Sim on fire when I got caught up singing in the shower and running late. (Bonus secret: When I was in high school, one of my favourite things to do was to pretend to be a Sim on fire. Serious fun, right there!)
But I digress.
If you spend all of your time running towards this mythical version of yourself, the main theme of your book is going to be someone hating themselves so much the plot got lost and there wasn’t much of a story.
And you’re going to get sick of re-writing the same chapter.
Whatever shit has happened in your life, whatever you see when you look in the mirror and however other people see you - you’re you. You got yourself this far. Not the marathon, carrot eating version of yourself. Nor the bestselling author version of yourself. Not You Version 2.0, but you now.
You’ve had your own back and you’ve survived things you thought you wouldn’t.
And that’s something to be really fucking proud of you.
The past is what builds us. While there are things we would take back, experiences we would choose not to re-live, and decisions we would change, all of those things make up your foundations. You can change because of them, you can decide to live a completely different life, create your own family, you can decide to move somewhere where nobody knows you.
But you can’t run from yourself and you can’t just define yourself by things that happened in the past. The person you are right now is a culmination of all your life experiences. You’re still in the same book. There are new roads you can take, new chapters in your book, but you can’t just up and move yourself out of your own story.
And it might take a while but there’s going to be a time where you realise you can’t just change the entire book. And learn to be okay with that.
The people you help, the work you put in the world, the conversations you have, the flecks of sunshine you leave wherever you go - they’re put there by the person who lived all of those things and had all those quirks.
Being yourself can be one of the bravest things you can do, and it’s a lifelong journey. So you might as well make it a fun one.