I just realized the other day that it’s been a decade since I was 17 years old. A decade. That sounds so like such a long time. Back when I was 17, I thought that turning 21 was such a long time away, and I thought that 30 was such an old age. It’s been a weird journey so far, and I while I feel “different”, I also feel like I’m exactly the same. Here’s some comparisons:
Me at 17: I was a junior at Pilgrim School; just started wearing clothes that were not black in color; in love with my then-boyfriend who I started going out with the summer before ninth grade; I was an okay guitar player in a “semi-band” with my then-boyfriend and our friends; I like to write short stories; was the co-editor-in-chief of the high school newspaper and the Secretary of the student council; I didn’t like hip-hop; and I didn’t have any real close female friends at this time (or Filipino friends at this time). I was a bit of an “outsider” in school in that I wasn’t part of the “popular” clique. Weirdly though, our student body was so small that cliques were barely that –people knew each other and were close with each other and didn’t really give each other a hard time. (The graduating class of 1995 was 19 students). At that time, all I wanted to be in life was be a writer (and teach on the side) and I’d written enough short stories to warrant accolades from my teachers and peers. (I don’t know where they are today and I only have vague recollections of them). I also thought I would marry my then-boyfriend and only abandoned this idea when I “found” myself in college during my freshman year. I dressed uniquely, in thrift-store and vintage shop-bought clothes and in fact, barely spent any money on them. You could consider me having a low-key Goth look. I was very focused on being “different” on the outside and thought I had a clear sense of my identity back then. At the time, I was also an avid fan of alternative rock. My all-time favorite band was The Cure (with near religious fervor, I must say), followed by other bands like Nirvana, Sonic Youth, The Smiths, REM, etc. I went to a lot of concerts and a lot of indie films.
But something happened in college that turned me into something else. The “core” me is still the same –same habits, beliefs, morals. But instead of being different in school, I suddenly wanted to fit in. I became lost in the sea of similarly strong-minded women in college. I felt dated all of a sudden. Didn’t know how to dress, didn’t know what kind of music to listen to. My roommate was popular and I was not. I was an introvert and didn’t know how to reach out to make new friends. Slowly, I found that I was abandoning my 17-year old self. At nineteen, I no longer listened to nearly 99% of the CDs that I had amassed. Buried The Cure e in favor of The Fugees. Adapted what other people were listening to. I had also stopped writing because I thought “who am I to think I can do anything with my stuff when there were hundreds of other kids here in college doing the same thing but better!” I started buying clothes from shops like Joyce Leslie versus Goodwill. I think the only hobby I still pursued was reading and watching films. I lost touch with the old boyfriend for a while, and I developed a new me. Of course, that's just a quick rundown...
Can the present me and the old me be reconciled? Of course. People change. It’s inevitable. We do new things, meet new people, have new experiences, and grow each day of our lives. It’s what life is about. Things and experiences that we went through become who we are. Some things though, will never change as we carry that experience or memory day after day.