I have changed a lot since I was younger. I’ve realized this for a while, but as I’ve been doing so much more personal reflection as part of my teacher training, I’ve been realizing just how much I’ve changed. Obviously I had physically grown, and I had acquired more knowledge, but I always thought that I wasn’t all that different. I focused on things that had remained the same, like my love of stories, particularly fantasy stories, my appreciation of beautiful things, my love for chocolate, my desire to learn how to play guitar, and my ambition to become a published author one day. My general outlook on life hadn’t changed that much. I was very much the same person. I hadn’t undergone any drastic changes. Or so I thought.
When I used the term “drastic changes” as a kid, I used it to describe things that I could physically see. The girl with blonde hair who dyed it black. The person who suddenly started hanging out with different people. The person who suddenly wore a different style of clothing. As a kid, I only noticed changes when they were sudden, and I focused on the external. I never seemed to consider internal thoughts or attitudes.
To be honest, when I say that I thought a certain way as a kid, I really mean that I think I thought that way as a kid. I’m not that kid anymore, and those memories are so old, and were so mundane at the time, that I really can’t be sure that what I think I recall is entirely accurate. Regardless of the specific memories, I know my past ways of thinking well enough to know that there has been a huge shift.
Take the list of things that have remained the same. Sure, I still passionately love fantasy, but when I was a kid, fantasy was the only genre I wanted to read, and now I am open to reading a far wider range of genres. This changed when I entered university, and I was not only exposed to other genres, but I was expected to take part in discussions about the stories. Through these discussions where I heard other people’s opinions, and the details in the text that they pointed out, I began to appreciate these other genres. While I had once only considered the end product of the novel itself, I began to understand the importance of the process that authors used to get there, and notice how intelligently they made connections, integrated themes, made an argument, or raised awareness of certain issues. I have recently purposefully bought books that I never thought I would even be remotely interested when I was younger. This marks a significant difference between the old me and the new me. Even take something as simple as my love of chocolate. At one point I did not like dark chocolate, and now I eat dark chocolate so regularly that milk chocolate now tastes weird to me when I have it. There’s a difference between the old me and the new me.
Not only have I added in new appreciations in for books of multiple genres other than fantasy and dark chocolate, making me more than I was before, but my ways of thinking have also changed, making me a different person than I used to be. I disagree with things now that I used to think were fine, and I refrain from actions that I used to have no problem with. Of course, at the time, I never realized how problematic these things were. I genuinely believed that I was doing nothing wrong, making the current me shrink in embarrassment and shame. One of the examples that I’m least proud of is my attitude towards one of my classmates. I clearly did not like this person, and felt totally justified in feeling this way. Looking back now, I see no justification for my attitude, and can only question how on earth I thought that my attitude was okay. My bad attitude manifested itself in me avoiding having any interaction with this person, verbally complaining when my teacher assigned me to sit beside him, and participating in conversations with classmates where we discussed how annoyed this person made us feel. When I discovered that this person was in my group for our Grade 8 Ottawa trip, my friends in the same group joked that we should duct tape him to a tree so that he wouldn’t ruin our trip. When I agreed with them, I was only half joking. Later, when I was in high school, I remember proudly thinking that I had never bullied anyone. Today, I sigh deeply and admit that yes, I actually had acted as a bully, and I cringe at the thought that I had actually considered duct taping someone to a tree. Perhaps it wasn’t physical bullying (it wasn’t like I had even considered duct taping that annoying person to a tree for more than two minutes, and we certainly hadn’t formulated any sort of plan to actually bring duct tape) and it wasn’t purposefully said to his face, but I was participating in nasty, negative conversations that were not appropriate in any way. Current me has a hard time comprehending the things that younger me did, and how I saw nothing wrong with them at the time. I am not the same person as that younger me.
I have always believed that I am a caring individual. I think this about myself now, although more cautiously. All of this reflection about the past, and seeing who I used to be, has forced me to consider what being “caring” actually means. Unlike younger me, I actively think about my actions, and reflect on ways that I can improve. Complacency is no longer good enough for me. I’m aware now that I’ll continue to change, and that one day I’ll look back critically on who I currently am.