On some days I can take comfort in the fact that I am not the same person I was a few years ago, while, on other days, this concept seems to cast a negative light over the idea of changing.
Two years ago, I was not gluten-free, I hated the thought of eating beans — or bananas or greek yogurt — and I had yet to earn my high school diploma. I guess a lot of my evolving materialized itself into my diet preferences.
Surprisingly, there are notable changes about myself on a level deeper than my opinion of beans. I see my trust as more valuable, and I am less willing to give it away than in previous years. I need and cherish my alone time more than ever. I find myself reflecting on my actions or words or thoughts, which 17-year-old me did not reserve as much time to do.
None of these changes just happened. I did not wake up and decide to be more skeptical on a random Tuesday morning just ‘cause. If I can pinpoint them or not, there are a myriad of moments in my life that come together to gradually build aspects of myself.
The easiest thing to point a finger at is big, life-changing events. These, of course, add to my perspective and cause contemplation on how to move forward. But I find it is the relationships in my life, the little interactions that truly make me evolve from day to day.
Shared moments that feel so minuscule while they are happening that I am unaware that they will become the foundation of who I am.
Since I was 13 years old, I have worked at my acting studio. Practically five years straight of Monday and Wednesday nights filled with kids rehearsing their shows and hot gluing felt circles onto t-shirts to make cat costumes.
Now, as a 19 year old, I have received the utterly heart-breaking news that one of the most wonderful children I got the privilege to teach unexpectedly passed away. Although I am sure this loss will leave its effect on my heart, it is the relationship I had with this child that has had a larger impact on me.
I have an inclination to smile bigger, as she did every single time she walked into the room. I let my laughter roar uncontrollably, as she was always the last one to stop her giggle. I actively attempt to practice selflessness, as she was the first to want her friend to have the larger role.
These moments — her smiling at me as she said hello, laughing at a silly line or showcasing her generosity — weren’t grandiose milestones in my life that abruptly changed me, but, who I am today, is partly due to these small interactions. Just her being in my life, every Wednesday night for an hour or so, is what changed me.
I hate that I will never be able to run into her in a few years at the grocery store or at a coffee shop and tell her about how she made me a better person. That would probably make her laugh. And she wouldn’t stop for a few minutes.
Her memory will live on in the parts of me that are influenced by her, and that is the beautiful aspect of change. When I realize something about me is different than how it used to be, it means there is a little bit of someone else, someone who impacted me, that I carry with me.
I am a true mosaic of the people that I have loved, the people that I have lost and all those in between. It will continue to grow and change to form a new picture, as I grow and change alongside it.