My journey to self-discovery has been 2.5 years and several thousand dollars in the making. Being both impatient and rather frugal, it hasn’t been the easiest road. And yet I wouldn’t trade that time or resources for anything: because here I am – nearly 27 and finally an authentic, albeit rough, version of myself.
Anyone who has struggled with self-esteem, mental health issues, an identity crisis, or has gone through a general personality change, is probably aware of the occasional loss of friends, partners, family members, etc. that sometimes happen. Not to negate their pain or struggles, but in the end these experiences are routine with growth and development.
It’s sometimes difficult to identify the exact point where you recognize that your individual paths start veering in opposite directions. In 2.5 years, I’ve parted ways with a handful of people; friends and partners. Sometimes it happens naturally – a gradual drifting apart without comment or recognition. Other times, it’s more dramatic – it’s a falling-out, an exclamation or accusation made in anger, or the burning of a bridge.
Both are sad to me. Both result in the ending of something, and I’ve never been particularly fond of endings. In the past, I had two coping mechanisms for this: avoidance and ignorance. Neither worked particularly well. I always felt it was my responsibility to fix things, or to make amends, often while sacrificing my own authenticity in the meantime.
I did no one a service in my actions. I put band aids on leaks in dams that burst anyways. I ignored my own needs to try and keep peace, only to end up being a terrible friend or partner because I wasn’t being myself – and therefore wasn’t happy. I avoided situations that turned worse without attention.
But the beauty of mistakes is that you can learn from them. I’m not always proud of the way I’ve reacted, but I am proud of learning to recognize my own needs and growth. Sometimes the hardest thing in the world isn’t to be honest with other people – but to be honest with yourself.
Sometimes, others’ perceptions of you will remain stagnant despite personal growth. Often what is apparent to us internally isn’t obvious to others. That’s okay. It’s not anyone’s fault, it’s just the nature of relationships. If something is broken, it may just need time and space to heal. Or it may be something that shouldn’t be repaired. Honesty with ourselves is integral in finding the appropriate action for the situation.