I was lamenting recently to a friend about how I used to be, always worried about what others would think, and afraid to be honest with myself or others, and she said, "You were still the same person then as you are now."
I'm always tempted to throw away the baby with the bathwater (so to speak, obviously I never threw away my own babies with any bathwater) when it comes to my life. No matter how much I try to be comfortable with grey areas, I still tend to err on the side of black and white, and go all or nothing with my words.
She's right, of course. We are who we are, with our good qualities and our not-so-good ones, and we are all works in progress. I was still the same person before, and I have many of the same friends now as I did when I was a child or a teenager, so I couldn't have been that horrible of a person. It's just that I feel so radically different on the inside, so much more genuine than I ever felt before, and that is why I'm tempted to see myself as a whole new person.
Sometimes we just need a new lens to view ourselves through. I have learned to see my vulnerability and sensitivity as strengths this year instead of weaknesses, and although my boundaries were much more permeable before and healthier now, I was indeed the same person as I am today.
New growth does not cancel out all that came before, it just adds layers of meaning to our experience. My inner change takes time to telegraph to the world through my words and actions, but it will happen in time. And I will remain the same person I've always been.
I need to become more comfortable with the shades of grey in life. It's not clear cut and simple. It's messy and beautiful and hopeful and terrifying by turns, and embracing that as true is a big part of the journey. There is some comfort in knowing that we are who we are. We are born and we eventually die, and in between we own our individual personalities. We can improve on them, or damage them, but we remain ourselves.