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Saturday, April 25, 2015

5 Things about Myself Now that would have Surprised 21-year-old Me

There I am, in France for the first time. Oblivious.
I am 31, right now.  (I just confirmed this with my husband.)  I was recently reflecting on #1 from this list and realized that in the last ten years I have changed a lot, and in ways that might have alarmed 21-year-old Me.  21-year-old Me was in her senior year of college in 2005, just back from a year abroad, with no idea what she was going to do after May.  Let's have some fun and dig through the old college and post-college diaries fraught with anxiety and mega-realistic plans for the future to examine the five things about my current self that would befuddle, shock, and possibly even revolt my Former Self.

#1 You snore.  While this remains unconfirmed, my snoring at night has even prevented my bed-mate from falling asleep.  (As aforementioned bed-mate is only known witness to alleged snoring, I maintain that I need further empirical evidence to be convinced of this fact.  Also, I don't snore, shut-up.)

#2  Your husband is someone you went to high school with.  This one would have truly knocked my socks off, as all through high school I was becoming more and more consumed with the idea of going "away."  Attaching myself to someone that would have further tied me to the area where I grew up would have been unthinkable for 21-year-old Me.  I had been dating David on and off since high school graduation, but there was always something that kept us from getting "too serious":  college or another sojourn in France or simply me feeling too young to commit to one person.  Looking at the whole relationship now, I'm so glad we didn't settle down any sooner than we did--we had the time to develop a complex friendship that survived long-distance and big life changes, while also pursuing those individual life goals of our youth that require one's undivided attention.

#3  You are physically stronger and in much better health.  I have always been skinny.  However, I spent most of high school and college feeling weak and fatigued.  I didn't realize how my (very crappy) diet was affecting how I felt.  Sometime in college and especially the year or two after, I realized that being skinny didn't necessarily indicate that I was strong or in good health.  Working out regularly gave me way more energy, muscles, and confidence to try new things.  I have achieved a few things I probably couldn't have several years ago.  ie, backpacking, climbing a 14-er in Colorado, wandering around a foreign city for a longer period of time, etc.  Additionally, I can focus better on more complicated tasks and my cognitive reasoning has improved.

#4  You can handle personal criticism.  In college and even after, if someone criticized something I did or even commented on my character, I would shut down for a few days.  I would obsess over the negative comment and feel like an utter failure, unable to absorb the information and just move on.  While this is still something I am working on, I am much better now at dealing with how people see me.  I can hear what people are saying, analyze it and take steps to work on what needs to be worked on and move past the rest, without letting it totally crush me.  21-year-old Me thought that the way to handle criticism was to just be so good at what she was doing, that she couldn't be criticized.  Wrong, my child, so wrong.

#5  Your French has improved.  As mentioned in #2, I became very concerned in high school about moving "away" from home.  This abstract idea took the more concrete form of "Go to France.  Learn French."  Of course, as I am a really late-bloomer it didn't actually occur to me that there was any specific action to take until about my second year of college.  I signed up for a French course and, the following year, studied in France.  I had a wonderful year but my French was still pretty dismal and as I winged my way back to America in June I thought, "Well, that was lovely, but I'll probably never really master French, so what's the point?"  (Ha.  Over a decade later and I haven't shaken the French bug and am still scheming ways to make a life here.)  21-year-old Me would have been shocked to discover that there are all sorts of situations I can now participate in without acquiring an unattractive sweat mustache.  Things like: talking on the phone, reciting long sequences of numbers, setting up a bank account, calling to fix my Internet bill and (unthinkably!) have a job interview.     

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