How many times have you heard someone say, “Oh. I dunno. She’s different now,” or, “Yeah. We don’t hang out anymore. He changed.”
And it’s a terrible thing, right? Someone we know well goes and changes. We no longer have things in common or our core values are no longer in alignment. Of course, we don’t actually consciously think all of those things. We just get angry. Or resentful. Or feel hurt. But really we’re scared, because our friend might slowly become less of a friend. And that sucks.
This idea has been plaguing me lately because I’m changing. And there’s a certain amount of self-centeredness that comes along with changing, if it’s for the right reasons. Most of my focus is on my own work, on the stuff I need to do to fulfill myself and make me happy and whole without anyone else lifting a finger. Waking up at 6:30am everyday to write is one way. Holding ridiculous yoga poses in the evening while slipping on my own sweaty mat is another. But the consciousness has to last the entire day between the writing and the yoga. That’s the hard part.
When the changes you’re making within yourself change the way you interact with the world around you, it feels alienating. I’m no longer going along with what “the group” and I was a part of creating. I’ve stopped participating in conversations that shame other people or bandwagon against someone not there to defend themselves. That includes gossip. I try not to complain as much. I’ve stopped trying to encourage people to do what I think they should do, or to do anything at all, really. I’ve stopped taking personally what people say to me, I’ve stopped expecting them to say the “right things.” I’ve stopped blaming people for the past. I’m no longer saying what I think people want me to say and I’m not acting in a way that makes them say, “That’s so Erin,” all the time just because I want them to recognize me, because being recognized feels good. I’m still snarky and sarcastic, but I’m careful to do it with a good spirit. And all of that…all of that means some people aren’t going to like hanging out with me.
Writing my book, and using so much of my old blog material to shape its outline, is a bright reminder of the stark contrast between the voice I use today and the voice I used three years ago. Some of it is almost embarrassing. So I’m working with my editor to weave together a book that includes both voices in a way that honors the old one but introduces the new one. My biggest fear is always that people who loved the old voice won’t like the new one, but I have to trust that someone else will come along who never knew the old one anyway and dive right in.
I now understand that the people around me who I’ve accused of “changing” were actually just growing, and I was kind of jealous that they were. And now that I’m the person doing the changing I’m terrified that paving this new path for myself will not include some of the people I love most because it’s different. I’m different. I mean, I’ll still say “shit” and stuff, but it’s just different. I can’t unknow the things I’ve learned about myself in the past year, and it would be a disservice not to apply them.
Is this too heavy for a Thursday?