A few weeks ago, I sat in my childhood room and, for the first time in a long time, read through some of my old journals. For years, I resisted the urge to read them because when I journaled, it was never from a place of gratitude or excitement. It was a tool to vent my rage, anger, and frustration at the world, my life, and my circumstances. It couldn’t respond, tell me I was being dramatic, or get mad at me for expressing. Basically, my journals absorbed all of the thoughts and emotions that lived inside of me, and I didn’t know how to express them in an acceptable way. I would open a page and start writing, never looking back on what I wrote. The pages only flipped forward.
I’m grateful to past me for writing them because they ended up being a time capsule of my thoughts and feelings in those moments. Thoughts and feelings that I can’t recreate, but that I can empathize with.
Those journals revealed goals that young me had, that current me no longer resonates with. For a moment, it felt like I owed young me something. I owed her the things that she thought she wanted at the time. But I’m also not her anymore. I’m a different person now.
Let go of what doesn’t serve you
Lately, I’ve been trying to figure out what aspects of my life (think hobbies, interests, etc.) are things that are authentically me, and what parts of me are because of what environment I was in at a particular time in my life.
I’ve been questioning WHY I like certain things. And why I feel such an obligation to stay current on things I don’t really care about anymore. Sometimes the answer is that everyone around me liked it, and I loved being a part of something. And maybe having that community served me at that point in my life, but it doesn’t as much anymore.
Break your own rules
It’s not easy to altogether reject parts of you that you thought was part of your identity, but you’re allowed to do it. It’s ok to let go of that strong principled stand you had against something you don’t care about anymore. You’re not under any obligation to still care about things you used to care about. You’re allowed to realize just how situational a lot of your interests are. And you’re allowed to replace those with new interests and without any explanation.
You can turn down opportunities that a past version of you would have killed for and not feel guilty. You don’t owe it to yourself to achieve old goals that you no longer care about, just for the sake of checking off a box.
Change is important
You‘re allowed to change and grow without punishing yourself for letting it happen. Sarah, five years ago, would probably hate current me. But that hatred is deeply seated in self-hate, resentment, and discontent with my own decisions. I used to look at other people doing things I wanted to do and think, ‘Whatever, I can do that if I wanted to, but I’d rather do XYZ thing I’m currently doing, for XYZ reason that I made up to make myself feel better for not doing what I really wanted to be doing.’
Minimizing other people’s accomplishments (in my head) used to be my way of coping with the fact that I wasn’t doing anything that I wanted to do. So I would lie to myself about what I really wanted, and the real reasons I wasn’t pushing myself.
Older versions of myself would probably judge the things I do now. I would tell myself that no one cares what I have to say or that I’m not qualified to give advice or share my lessons. But I’m doing it anyway.
Trust that everything that you’ve been through has given you the knowledge that you need to be who you are in this exact moment. And you don’t need to use that information to live out old dreams that you no longer care about.