I remember when I was younger; I used to recount all my experiences, note down all my emotions and express all my feelings through writing. By the time I was 19, I had accumulated at least 10 diaries, whose entries were reflective of all the things I was going through at the time.
Why might someone keep so many diaries, for so long, you might ask? I guess I liked looking back on my life and remembering experiences that I went through, how I felt at the time and reflecting on how much I’d changed since then.
And funny thing is, even though I threw away all those diaries about 2 years ago, I still enjoy reflecting back on my life and how far I’ve come. I remember being in high school, not so long ago, and how adamant I felt about who I was and where I wanted to be in the future. I thought I understood myself, what I represented and how I felt towards things. Then I grew up and realised – sometimes who we think we are is not always representative of who we actually am.
Take for instance – something as simple as the name by which you are called. Until I was 19, I never went by my first name but by the part of my name which was “easier to pronounce” – Kim. I remember my brother making a joke about how I was ashamed to be called by my Vietnamese name – Thuy – and I never thought anything of it until I met my husband.
When I met my husband, I was a month shy of turning 18, in my second year of University and still on the path of finding out who I was. I went by the name Kim, was too self-conscious to wear my glasses unless I was doing work; and thought I knew where I wanted to be in life. I hadn’t changed too much since high school. I was yet to realise that I had put up a front around people, and that I was too afraid to be myself.
But such feelings are common for people who are still growing up, going through adolescence and working out where they want to be in life. There are so many pressures around you – peer, family, societal – and it seems that the pressure to be who people want you to be can hinder who you actually are.
But Lawrence got me out of my shell, made me realise who I really was and taught me that it was okay to speak my mind. He is the reason why I am now proud of my Asian values and why I now go by the name, Thuy. And I truly love him for that. But I guess you never actually realise how much you’ve changed until you speak to people you used to know, or those who once played a big part in your life.
And sometimes the reaction to what you’ve “become” is not always positive. People often have a hard time dealing with change and fail to realise that it is not always for the worse. Sometimes others can be in your life for a short period of time, simply with the purpose of teaching you something. But then circumstances can cause you to drift apart, priorities can change and more often than not, you just realise you’ve become different people.
However, I guess this begs the question – is it more so that you’ve become different people…. or that you’ve become closer to who you truly are? I think that’s where the significant issue lies. You often hear people say, “You’ve changed, I don’t like who you’ve become”, yet they could be missing the point completely. Life is a continuous journey; we go through experiences that teach us who we are, what we value and challenge us in more ways than one. Sometimes it is not so much that we’ve “changed”, but more so that we are one step closer to realising who we truly are.
So to say that somebody has “changed” isn’t necessarily true. It could be that your perception of who they were doesn’t match up to who they actually are. And I guess that’s what life is about – trying to find out who you are. Though, such a process is not an easy one.
When I was in high school, I thought I wanted to study first then get married and have kids later on in life. Then I met Lawrence and all that changed. And I don’t regret a single thing. Getting married and having kids has made me realise that I am more capable than I ever thought I was and more selfless than I believed myself to be.
And it’s life-changing experiences like that which bring us closer to who we are and what we value. Realising who you are doesn’t happen overnight – it can be a slow process at times and a confusing one at that – especially when you throw kids into the mix. When you become a parent, you focus so much on someone else that you often make decisions based on convenience and practicality, not so much what you really want to do in life. And it can be confusing trying to work out what you really want, when it is the needs of your children that are begging to be met as well.
But life is about finding your way onto the right track, balancing all these stressful aspects of life and trying to “find yourself” amongst it all. It’s not an easy task, but it most definitely is a worthwhile one. You’ve just got to be willing to hold on; and realise that even though some may believe that you’ve changed, there are plenty of people that love you for who you truly are… even if you’re still trying to find out who that is.