You know that sick feeling you get when you see a class portrait of yourself from, say, fifth grade? That gut-churning embarrassment? Well, maybe you don't feel sick. Maybe you feel awesome because you were the coolest kid and your parents took you to Chuck E. Cheese all the time and you got the best grades in school but people liked you anyway because they recognized your value as a person, and you didn't go through that awkward pre-adolescent stage that involved you crying into your pillow every night because no one could ever possibly love you.
But the rest of us cringe. We see awful hair, teeth before braces, fashions that never should have been created. We suddenly see ourselves from a different viewpoint. Here is an accurate, true-to-life representation of our actual appearance ten, fifteen, or twenty years ago (bad hair days notwithstanding). I really wore that, we muse. I seriously chose to look like that?
Although my grade-school pictures are certainly nothing I will ever brag about (ask my mom about the Gap-Toothed Wonder I was at age nine), I'm finding that, for me, a much more accurate picture of who I really was can be found in my writing.
Thursday was my day off, and, in between loads of laundry and snacking on Skittles, I found myself, unsurprisingly, in front of the computer. I determined that I would not entirely waste the day, and so I started this blog to work on my writing and engage in some serious self-examination. In scanning through files of old skits, plays, short stories (all unfinished, of course), photos, and blogs, I was fascinated. Some of the things I wrote, and some of the things I felt seriously astonished me.
I wrote my first blog on November 20, 2006. It was a Monday. I know this because myspace tells me so. It was a light and fluffy thing simply introducing myself to social networking. The very second blog (posted a mere eight hours later) delved immediately into the spiritual, the emotional and the physical with lines like, "I've decided that my kids will know from the womb that there is no such thing as Santa Claus." Pretty hard-core, no? I think I've always been sincere in my writing, sometimes nakedly so. There are no veils to disguise or guard, nothing to shield myself against attack. I've come full-circle. There were moments that showed I did understand what taking the high road meant, what forgiveness is and that I had to swallow my pride many, many times. I relived the emotions that drove me to write about the unexpected loss of my job at Starbucks, being harassed by a married man who misunderstood our friendship, painful moments in my relationship with my mother, the joys and trials of my faith, the wonderful moments of laughter and warmth with friends and family, and the hollow ache of feeling alone.
When I was eleven I was so afraid of who I was and how others would perceive me that I was always silent. Now that I am an adult and have little anxiety about what people really think, I open myself like a book, and I am black ink on stark white pages. And, while I am embarrassed at what were once my feelings, opinions and values, I am also able to look back at my former self and smile. It was a rough journey, believe you me, but it's one that led me to where I am today. And I wouldn't change it for the world.
I'm just hoping that, when I look back on these moments years from now, they're better than the crimped bangs from junior high.