Accepting Past Versions Of Ourself
I have often said that I peaked at nineteen. Physically I was prettier, with a slimmer face and better skin. Emotionally I think was more stable, I was definitely fighting less battles with regards to my mental health. I had the most wonderful boyfriend who took me to Paris for our first anniversary, I travelled the world for five months with my best friend, and before that had worked the two most enjoyable jobs that I have ever experienced. Life was going well, so well, and I had no idea what was in store for me next.
As I tried to prove this to my newfound friends over a gin and tonic in a British pub last night (because I was feeling homesick, and G&Ts make me feel a little closer), sliding photo after photo on my iPhone to show them how lucky I had been, I came to muse upon this topic.
We are many, many version of ourself throughout our lives.
Granted I may be wearing some pretty strong rose tinted glasses, but I feel that romantically life has only gone downhill since that boy and I confess to still being in love. With what I'm not sure, because I know I'm not the same naive nineteen year old that genuinely thought we would get married, and so I suppose I am in love with the memory of him and what we had together. All I know it was that it was the most healthy, most fulfilling relationship that I have ever had.
Emotionally life has become harder too. But the difficulties I have experienced in the past three years is what drives my passion for improving mental health, and has given me the gift of being able to help others.
The most profound realisation that I happened upon, though, was that the two aforementioned qualities were to some extent the price I paid for making the decision to embark on a whole new adventure; one that lead to my stunned observation the other day that in the past year I have lived on four continents, each for more than two months at a time. This mildly nomadic lifestyle killed more than one relationship, which can be both a blessing and a curse, and has caused me many a saddened moment in which I am far away from those that I need to be with.
Would I change anything?
I don't think so. It doesn't seem possible to take back even a second of the tumultuous and tremendous past three years. Other things have happened, terrible losses that I wouldn't wish on anyone which too has contributed to the person I am today, but there is nothing I could do about those. Where the decisions were made, however, I feel that I have to stand by them. It is just with a sad nostalgia that I pick up an old version of myself, like a once loved scarf sitting idly in the back of a closet, wrapped briefly around me as a familiar reminder of what used to be. That is how I feel when I flick through these photos, with my satisfied grin glaring out of my iPhone for what was my reality. One day this night too will become part of the story, in which I perhaps despair for the unlined eyes that have not yet earned their wrinkles. Isn't that why they tell us to live in the present, so that we embrace these moments rather than constantly looking behind us?
She feels like a stranger, that past version of me, but when the memories arise I shall treat her like an old friend; smiling until she passes by. We can only be the best versions of what we have to work with right now, and with my hopelessly lacking romance and anxious mind I shall embrace a satisfyingly single life in which self care is a daily practise. It's not a bad life, after all.