I had this wonderful epiphany as I was on the train to work this morning. I thought out all of the nuances of the particular post I would make, highlighting specific instances in my life and noting the ways that I'm continuing to be brave in my own special way. But now, I can't think of anything. The thoughts departed, I filled my day with other semi-productive tasks and assignments, and I'm left blank in the space that I really wanted to explore. How frustrating.
I know it had something to do with how conservative I used to be. If you knew me in high school, there's probably no way that you'd predict that I would end up where I am, holding the world views that I have and befriending the people who are very near and dear to my heart. I'm sure I don't give myself enough credit for always being like this. Somewhere, deep down. But, in my reflective, critical hindsight, I see myself as a naive, judgmental weirdo, with too many opinions and not enough facts. I'm glad that that has shifted a bit in the past 11 years, but I'm sure I still have far to go with many more ideas to challenge and mindsets to shift over the course of my life.
I voted for George W. Bush in the 2004 Presidential Election.
I don't know if my 18 year old self would have believed that someone so forward-thinking, so progressive, so liberal existed inside my narrow, limited world view. If she would have known of this RENT-singing, Bernie-loving, pride-flag-waving 29-year-old, not only would she have steered clear of her, but she probably would have written in her journal about how she used the spirit to overcome the temptations of the world and the negative influences of others. Yikes.
I do think that it takes a lot of bravery and self reflection to recognize the ways that I am different from how I used to be, but I'm also learning to be kinder to my past self. Sure, she wasn't quick enough to love, but she did other great things, and slowly but surely she developed into a pretty unique, able, and confident adult. Instead of telling people, "You wouldn't believe how I was in high school; I was one of those religious freaks who didn't listen to music with lyrics and thought that anyone who swore was going straight to Hell," I should be more accepting of the ways I've changed and grown in the past 10 years. And, in some ways, I need to acknowledge the ways I'm still the same. I do love instrumental music, and I do think that people who swear are going to Hell--haha, and I'll be with them.
As I negotiate the challenges and opportunities on my horizon, I am faced with accepting the girl I was in high school and realizing that I still have more to learn from her. I need her to teach me the optimism and beauty of things that I have long-since rejected as too Utah. It's true that I will never be like her again, but I can still accept that I was like her once upon a time.