I Am a Work in Progress, and So Are We All

Sometimes, I look around, and I don’t understand how I could be the same person I was back then. But then I look at myself and go “Oh, that’s how I got here. Okay.”

I read so much about characters in books who go through some seriously extreme character development, and by the end of the series, are completely unrecognizable from who they were at the beginning. I used to think that that was an exaggeration, but these days I’m not so sure.

Three years ago, I thought that I would be doing policy debate for my entire high school career. I was planning to go to the Emory debate camp, I was on a team with my best friends, and I was ranked the third middle school speaker in the state.

I quit debate two years ago, and have not regretted that decision even once.

I was equally convinced that I would continue with the same sports I was doing at the time, and theater as well. In 8th grade, I was involved in some capacity with every drama production my school had. I ran cross country, and I was a springboard diver. That was what I did, and it was what I was convinced that I would do no matter what. I think I knew, even then, that I would eventually have to give some of it up. But I didn’t know how much of it, or even when that would need to happen. Today? I haven’t had anything to with theater, for any of my high school experience. I still love watching a show, but I have no patience at all for all of the drama that comes with, well, drama. I still love running, but I’m much more comfortable running ten miles than I am running three, and I quit cross country this year so that I can run half marathons. As for diving… Well, I’ve quit that one several times, each one “for good.” But this time… I think it’ll stick. I’m not diving, I’m not coaching. But I am still managing a team. I still love the sport, there’s no doubt about that. But I no longer love being a competitor.
That, I think, is the main difference. Being the best is no longer my main drive. These days, I don’t much care whether I end up with the top spot on the podium. I care about doing my best. My main competitor is myself. “Personal best,” those are the words I care about, if I have to care about a label on one of my performances at all.

Three years ago… Honestly, sometimes I think everything has changed.

I didn’t care then, about how I looked, aside from learning the basics of makeup and how to straighten my hair. Now, I poke and prod at myself in the mirror, wondering what a normal body shape is, and forcing myself to remember that airbrushed models look nothing like that in real life.
I would never have qualified myself as an artist then. I wrote poetry, all the time, and sometimes stories. Sometimes, the stories were long, and it was three years ago that I wrote my first attempt at a novel (I gave up about a hundred pages in). Now, I’ve published one novel and I’m working on another. I have job at an art museum, and I have committed to a project involving art-based-on-books which will be presented at a Decatur library before this year is out.

I’m still friends with most of the people I knew three years ago. But I’m friends with so many people I didn’t even know existed before. My best friends range from people I’ve known since preschool to people I met on day one of freshman year, and even to people who I was convinced I hated for a long time.

I can trace some of the changes in who I am back to specific events. Specific moments when I decided, “yes, this is who I am.”

But there are some changes I can’t figure out.

Some of those are simple, like my enjoyment of coffee. I don’t know when I started drinking it, but I did, and now I really enjoy it. Some would say I rely on it.

I don’t know when I became friends with some people I know. We hated each other, and now we don’t.

Barnes and Noble became my favorite study spot.

I started wearing high heels on a more regular basis, and makeup nearly every day to school.

Few of these changes are really who I am. But they are all a part of me. And all of them would completely shock the three-years-ago me.

Three years isn’t that much time.

But eighth grade seems simultaneously like yesterday and like forever ago, and sophomore year of college is both a single step in front of me, and so far away I can’t even fathom everything that could occur between now and then.

That’s part of the thought process behind the name of this blog—This is how I feel right now. In a few years, that will be a memory. But it will be a memory on a record. I will be able to look back at what I wrote, and remember the person I was when I wrote it.

As a person, I am constantly a work in progress. And isn’t that the way it’s supposed to be?

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