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You: Then, Now, Forever?

“I’ve already lost touch with a couple of people I used to be.”—Joan Didion

Like caterpillars, we go through a metamorphosis, the same DNA that makes a caterpillar is what transforms them into a butterfly. Humans have many metamorphoses, if we’re lucky. Our physical bodies change, yes, but I’m focusing on the internal growth, the emotional evolution.

We cling to old habits because it’s all we know, terrified of the new and the unknown. But change is inevitable, we can’t unlearn knowledge we’ve gained, can’t erase emotional scars, most times the worst memories are the easiest to recall and the happiest are only a gentle hum.

Do we ever say goodbye to past selves? A shift in mood, a trick of the light, a certain aroma can resurrect them to the present. Who’s visiting in this moment? Nervous You that wears thumb holes in the seams of your sweaters from exhausting the stitching. Maybe it’s Accomplished You, happiness defined by dopamine hits from checking off items on to-do lists—the only way of feeling like you didn’t waste the day by existing. Intuitive You has been more active lately, but the jury is out on whether or not your observations are accurate or even wanted, let alone appreciated. Then there’s Escapist You, finding catharsis through delving deep into others’ lives, living vicariously through characters that jump off the page.

I think it’s less about whole selves being discarded and more that parts of the self fall away when their purpose is no longer relevant. Like hermit crabs that outgrow their shells, humans outgrow jobs, relationships, and even themselves. It takes a lot of searching to find the people and paths that fulfill us, it can take a an entire lifetime, or many depending on what you believe.

The self fluctuates, the road can be clear skies and smooth pavement one day and filled with switchbacks up a mountain in the middle of a downpour the next. Coping with the pendulum swings is a hard-won skill and it doesn’t always succeed.

I raise a glass, toasting new habits, fresh mindsets, and embracing the fear. I give my past, present, and future selves a huge hug because I know they need it. I stand at the threshold of perspective, choosing to look back and not judge myself too harshly, I did my best then and I continue to do my best now.

My spiritual body is a Frankenstein, pieces replaced with new growth or transplants, stitched together with gold light filling in the cracks. A self ever-evolving, continuously cultivating courage. Because fear may delay me, but it won’t stop me.

Thank you to Rachel Cargle and her inspiring post on Instagram that moved me to turn inward. It’s important to check in on our own personal evolution to see how far we’ve come and continue to do the work to be better and more honest for ourselves tomorrow.

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