I don’t understand people’s need to insist, “I’m still the same person I was before” or “I’m not gonna change”. Why on earth would somebody want to stay the same as they always have for the entirety of their lives?
I recently re-watched some of Itswaypastmytime’s videos and came across this one, where Carrie talks about the different regenerations of herself, and I got thinking about the different people I’ve been.
The first ‘me’ was really when I started high school, aged 12. I was as scared as any unusually small 12-year-old girl who had been told her sister’s horror stories of high school (all made up, just to scare me). I’d come from a small primary school, with only about 30 people per year group – everyone got along. The biggest drama was that the football matches between the year 6 and 5 boys sometimes ended in name-calling. High school was massively different and I wasn’t prepared for it.
I was so quiet that most people hadn’t heard me speak before. I would never put my hand up for fear of having the wrong answer, and being picked on to answer would result in my entire head (not just my cheeks, my entire head) turning bright red and me shakingly mumbling an answer…that was usually right.
It took me far too long to grasp the popularity scale. One of my friends became part of the ‘popular girls’ – I did not. But I didn’t even realise this had happened for a worrying amount of time. She was my friend and one of the very few people I wasn’t scared to talk to, so naturally I was glued to her side. But she didn’t want some weird kid who barely spoke following her around, former best friend or not.
Once I’d realised this after about a month, I finally found a group of people who I did fit in with. I started talking to more people. I was still too scared to speak up in class and my awkward encounter with popularity made me too scared to speak to someone new unless they spoke to me first, but I always had friends. I don’t like this version of myself very much – I made myself an easy target for bullies and was completely unable to stand up for myself.
The second version of ‘me’ came at around age 15. I had become best friends with this girl, but it turned into her being my only friend. By the time I realised that I was spending all of my time with this one person, I’d already drifted away from who I thought were my friends. I stopped talking to this girl after I started to feel almost trapped by her friendship. This led to a complete change of friendship group. I was leaving behind the people I had spent the last three years with and it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I luckily had a friend who had another group of friends that were willing to accept me, and pretty quickly I realised that I fitted in with them much more.
I had no idea friends could be friends without all the drama. There were no arguments and I didn’t have to try and act cool around these people. For this reason, years 10 and 11 were my favourite at high school and I don’t hate this version of myself as much as I do the previous ones. I was much happier with people who were actually like me.
The third is the person I was when I started sixth form in September 2012, simply because I didn’t know what else to do. I hated school. I grew to resent having to go, but still I got on with it. I feel like over the past two years, I have grown enormous amounts. I am able to talk to pretty much everyone in my year now – admittedly it’s a small year group of about 60 people, but for me this is a massive improvement. This confidence has continued to grow outside of school. I now go out with friends almost daily – something I rarely did before. I no longer have to ask someone else to order my food for me; I’ll ask for help if I need it; I can make small talk. All of these seem like such little things, but I’ve simply never had the confidence to do them before! I’m proud of how far I have come, but there is still plenty of room for improvement.
I feel like version four is the biggest change. After starting university, I’ve had the confidence to become the person I wanted to be, but never had the courage to before. I go out more, I speak to more people, I work harder. I’m proud of the changes I’ve been through and looking back, there isn’t a ‘version’ of myself I would be happy to be anymore. I’m happy with this version. That being said, I’m looking forward to the next, and the next and next. People change: it’s just what we do, and it’s not a bad thing. Actually it’s pretty cool.
Words: Zoe Wallbank