I’m a recent college graduate - go noles - stuck in her childhood bedroom, running with the same social circle I had my senior year of high school doing the same things we did back then. Everything, yet nothing, has changed. Seventeen-year-old me wouldn't recognize twenty-year-old me if we walked past each other on the street, despite the fact that, save for five tattoos, we look physically the same. It’s everything else that’s different.
The clothes. The music. The hobbies. The mentality. The futures we think we want for ourselves. It’s all different. And change is good, especially after college and it comes with growing old, but what if you’re a different person completely? Is that still good if you don't know who you are anymore and you’re longing for a do over?
I found that half assed ramble while searching through my Google Docs, and while I’m in a completely different place than I was when I wrote that, I still get it. I’m twenty-one now, living and working for Disney World, surrounded by people that only know the me I am now. Not the me I was when I first started this, nor the me who I was longing for up above. I still miss the me who I used to be, the me with so much potential and surprisingly more motivation than I have now. But I still don’t know who I am.
I used to write constantly. Fiction, poetry, essays for class, personal opinion pieces posted on various websites, blog posts that never made it that far, editorials for my high school and community college newspaper. It was me and a notebook, me and a Word Doc. I used to write whatever came to mind.
I haven’t done that until now.
I’m happier now than I used to be. I know that for sure. I don’t cry as much as I used to, and when I do need to cry, it’s harder to come by. That’s a good sign, right? I go to work when I’m supposed to, and I enjoy my job for the most part. How many people can say a mouse signs their paychecks? I don’t stay in bed until 4pm anymore; I get restless when it’s 10am and I’m still doing nothing. All good signs, right? All good signs pointing in the direction of being “cured” from the depression that haunted my adolescence?
I have friends. I go out. I have a boyfriend. Happy, happy, happy. Right?
Right…to an extent.
I am happy with my life now. I’m happy I took the chance and moved to Orlando when my anxiety was trying to convince me to stay forever in my childhood bedroom. But I don’t feel fulfilled.
I hate routine. I hate driving the same path to work every day, doing the same thing for a smidge above minimum wage, and coming home to do the same thing. I hate feeling like I settled, like this is all my life will amount to. I hate second guessing my decision to move here, to postpone grad school for a “gap year” (let’s see how long that year will last), to wonder if I’m making the right choices because I don’t feel excitement, passion, or really much of anything.
I used to feel everything to the extreme. It was never truly mediocre in how I used to be. It was either 100% excitement, or lust, or longing…or 100% sadness, or anger, or fear. I used to be so into music where I could tell you anything about anything about a musician or song that I liked. Music used to make me feel full of life. Tears or laughter within hearing the opening note.
Now? Now I just listen to whatever’s on. New stuff doesn't give me a thrill, old stuff gives me an ounce of nostalgia here and there. In one ear, out the other.
Is this what it’s like to grow older?
I ran away to the happiest place on earth to avoid a desk job I knew would send me to the grave. But yet, here I am making magic for hundreds of people a day, and I have never felt more unmagical. Should I have chosen the desk job, should I have turned to corporate America rather than the badly hidden corporate America I’m at now? Should I settle down? Meal plan every week, coupon, cook and clean, cook and clean? Live the 1950s nuclear America that somehow is still relevant?
I used to want that. When I started this, that’s what I meant by the difference in mentality in who I was and who I used to be. Trad wife versus the runaway bride. I used to flinch at the idea of marriage; spending your life trapped by one person, running out of excitement and passion? No thank you. Little did I know I would find that regardless of a ring on my finger or not. I ended up desiring that; cooking and cleaning without appreciation just to satisfy my desire to be needed and wanted. First being a good little housewife for my family, then what?
There is so much more to be said. Said about my emotions, my relationships, my job. But sometimes things are better left unsaid, right? Better kept in the dark so you nor nobody else has to process it. But we all know things left in the dark will come out to play eventually. If not publically, they’ll eat you alive until the holes within you shine light on them.
But back to the title of the story, I miss who I used to be. The me I was longing for in the beginning, the me I was when this was conceived, the me I could've been, the me I should’ve been. I don’t feel like myself anymore, and there’s a million reasons why.
And that’s okay. I think.
I have to keep reminding myself I’m only barely twenty-one. I felt like my life was ending when I graduated with a bachelors degree at twenty and I had no idea what I was doing. Which I still don’t, to be fair, but I’m learning to be okay with that. I’m learning to be okay with who I am, inside and out. Personality and heart. Humor and heartbreak. Gotta be okay with all of the pieces to start learning how to be happy.
Sometimes I wonder if I was ever truly happy. If I even know what happiness is. Sure I have bursts of happy, but is it happiness? I can get there, right?