Advice, Campus Life, Lifestyle

A delicate line between staying true to yourself, evolving

I always felt like I knew who I was from a young age. I knew what was important to me and what qualities I valued in myself and others. 

For a long time, I was steadfast with who I was. It wasn’t that I didn’t acknowledge that I was going to change — I’ve always been excited to continue growing and learning — but I was very adamant about not changing specific parts of myself. 

I’m coming to realize, however, that this way of thinking isn’t always a good thing. 

To the core, I believe that I haven’t changed in many ways. I still try to be as kind as I can be. I still have so many sarcastic comments in my arsenal. I still wear my heart on my sleeve. 

But with those statements comes added developments — like branches springing out of roots. While still striving to be kind, I’m starting to discover situations where kindness doesn’t solve everything. Though I still usually have something witty to say after a friend’s comment, I think more carefully about my words now and choose when to add my voice. I still wear my heart on my sleeve. But after experiencing different levels of hurt, I’m wearier of the consequences that could occur from being unabashed about my feelings.

A person balancing on a log. Lifestyle editor Katrina shares her thoughts on grappling with the preservation of her true self while anticipating and welcoming the person she is growing into. COURTESY OF JON FLOBRANT VIA UNSPLASH

When I feel the confidence in my own values start to shake, I tend to hold onto them even stronger as a defense mechanism or a shield. But lately, I’ve tried to begin embracing the discomfort and really facing inward to observe not only why I feel uncomfortable, but how I can still thrive in the uncertain. 

Being okay with not knowing the exact answers is such a hard thing to do, especially for someone like me who likes to know as much as possible. But I’m actively trying to teach my mind to balance what I already know and am confident about with the unknown and uncertain. It gets tricky, especially if one side immediately contradicts the other, but I think it’s really important, especially in terms of personal growth. 

For example, I know that I’m good at dictating a conversation with pretty much anyone, and I know that’s most likely not going to change. But I’ve taken note of it more often, trying to really listen when people speak instead of thinking about what I’m going to say next. Saying that I’m quieter than I was before would be a bit of a stretch, but I definitely feel myself not wanting to insert myself into every conversation anymore. Not everyone needs to know my opinion all the time. 

I try to always be as kind as possible, whether it to be my dearest friends or to complete strangers. I know — and hope — that quality about myself will never change, but I’ve also learned that one can be kind while also asserting themselves and not being a pushover. Deep down, I used to be a people pleaser, and it was really hard for me to admit that to myself. I’m trying to figure out how to continue being kind while also knowing where the line needs to be drawn depending on the situation. 

In writing all of this, the point I’m trying to make is that you can have your foundation, but it’ll only benefit if you build something on it. And it’s a learning process you’re going to be a part of forever.

I don’t ever want to stay at a standstill, but in order to grow, I have to face myself and ask tough questions. I also have to learn to be okay with challenging thoughts that I used to think I wouldn’t ever question. 

Every day that passes along with every fleeting thought is a chance to evolve. The best thing is that most of the time, you don’t even realize you’re changing and growing until you get the rare chance to take a step back and evaluate. 

The line between who you’ve always been and who you’re growing into is a thin one, and it’s so difficult sometimes to teeter between the two sides, but it’s okay. Just because your younger self isn’t a carbon copy of your present-day self doesn’t mean that you’re not the same person. 

That little stubby root just has some branches and leaves now as well. 

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