2013 vs 2018
5 years ago, I was 20 years old and I was an entirely different person. 5 years doesn’t even sound like a long time, but when you’re transitioning into adulthood, 5 years can be life changing. So here are 5 major ways that I’ve changed in the past 5 years.
I Wasn’t A Christian
5 years ago I was not a Christian. In fact, I had 0 interest in Christianity- or any religion for that matter. For one, I did not have a (personal) solid religious foundation. I did not build a relationship with Christ as a kid and I did not feel that there was any place, or person, whom I could voice my (very natural) questions and concerns to. It did not help that most people around me were the kind who claimed to be Christians, but treated people terribly, or were not Christians at all. Second, I was angry at the idea that there could be a God that allowed me to suffer the way that I had been suffering for so long. The idea that a God who could stop the awful things that happened to me from happening, but didn’t.
What changed? Well, I had gotten to a point where I wanted nothing more than to kill myself. The attempt failed and I decided that killing myself was too risky because if I didn’t die, I could mistakenly cause a permanent physical or mental impairment and end up even more miserable. My quality of life went into a steady decline and I could not keep living in the hell that was my physical and mental world. So, I decided that I should go to a church that I carefully and intentionally picked and see if religion was as “happy and pure” as believers made it sound. I didn’t believe it was, but I had nothing left to lose and I was desperate for a sober way out.
I had a hard time adjusting to church people and accepting their kindness (believing they actually were nice and not just putting up a front), but I kept coming back because it was the one thing that didn’t make me feel any worse than I already felt. I slowly started to enjoy the messages about how there was Someone out there who actually did love me unconditionally and wasn’t disappointed, and how He had a purpose for me, and how I was welcome to come back to Him whenever I want, regardless of my past. Eventually, I decided to officially convert and commit my life to Christ. It sounds really nice and glittery, but I didn’t instantly know how to become a better person at that moment. It just gave me a better reason to try to become better by being more conscious and aware of my thoughts and actions, even after I make mistakes.
I Had No Vision Of The Future
5 years ago, I had no idea of where I would be in 5 years. I had dreams of becoming a scientist and moving to Japan, but I had no faith in myself and I was convinced that I would never accomplish anything. I had stopped studying Japanese all together and I no longer felt that I was smart enough to study science. I know a lot of people now who would probably gasp in disbelief at that sentence. By that time in my life, I was at my emptiest and loneliest. My sporadic behavior and rage fits drove away my friends and made my peers very leery of approaching me, so it was my own fault that I was lonely. I don’t blame anyone who wanted nothing to do with my then for feeling that way. My lack of direction prevented me from moving forward and I was stagnant for a little more than a year.
What changed? I was not satisfied or happy with my job or my new college major (I changed it to business when I went back to school because I didn’t feel smart enough to study biology anymore). Through faith in a God who would help me to get through obstacles by giving me guidance, courage, or literally removing the obstacle (from my path) all together, I started to believe in myself again. Then, in December of 2015, I decided that I wanted to (and was able to) go after my true goals.
I Was Dependent On The Wrong People
5 years ago, I did a terrible job at leaning on the people who wanted me to lean on them. Instead, I leaned onto the people who were as lost, confused, and depressed as I was. It was partially because I related to those people like me more (or was looking for love desperately), but also because I was avoiding real responsibility. The people who were good for me gave me realistic advice, from a non-biased/non-emotional perspective and I did not want to hear it. However, the people who were like me would say what I wanted to hear. They would take my side, even if I was wrong and make me think that things were OK.
What changed? Oh, that’s an easy one. My life going down the garbage disposal is what changed. For one, those who I leaned on eventually moved on with their lives without me. And as I regained my sense of direction, I only wanted to take advice from people who had relevant experience in the direction that I was trying to go in. So not anyone who was also struggling with me.
I Was A Terrible Student
5 years ago, I spent so much time throwing pity parties for myself and bashing myself, that I never put real energy into school. Honestly and truly, I didn’t believe I was capable, so I just didn’t try. I didn’t study, I almost never did my homework, and I couldn’t sit through a single lecture or exam without falling asleep. I took Japanese and made a D. I literally failed a class that taught the very basics of my second language. That’s how terrible I was. Now granted, I was also working full-time, sometimes even over-time and at one point, I was working and going to school 7 days per week, with no breaks.
What changed? Haha. I have to laugh at this one because this actually didn’t change until December of 2016 when I finally got on track to graduate, but failed one class that caused a ripple effect that pushed back my graduation date. I also got my dream job that semester and by the end of the year, I had been given my first personal experiment. So, I didn’t start being a “good” student until January of 2017, not even 2 years ago. It was then, that I decided to dedicate myself to school and work.
I Used To Keep My Hair Cut Short
This one doesn’t sound major, but it is. Because 5 years ago, I didn’t believe that I could be beautiful or feminine. The first time I cut my hair was right before I left to go to basic training. Going into the military made it really easy to abandon femininity entirely and explore my masculine side. Unless I was trying to be “sexy”, I wore a combination of male and female clothes, not to mention the bulky uniform. Despite the compliments I got from other people, I didn’t feel beautiful- which caused me to lose my attachment to my hair. Slowly, I would cut off more and more, til finally I had a pair of scissors and I was chopping it all off entirely. There weren’t enough photo-filters in the world to convince me that I was a beautiful, valuable woman and keeping my hair short was one way of constantly reminding myself that I wouldn’t ever really be “woman enough” for this world.
What changed? I didn’t have time to keep getting haircuts. Plus, I wore so much weave/wigs/braids that I would almost forget about my own hair. Before I knew it, my hair was shoulder length and I was enamored by the length it had grown. Once I lost weight in 2016, I decided I wanted to try to be feminine and that made me want to grow my hair long, so I didn’t have to rely on extensions. I don’t think that a woman has to have long hair to be feminine, but I know that I look better and more woman-like with longer hair. I also feel more confident with my long hair.
Believe it or not
These 5, seemingly subtle differences between me then and now made a world of difference. These things affected who I was, what I did, how I treated people, who was in my life, and the direction that I went in. I went from being cold hearted, hateful, mean, lost, and suicidal to being friendly, warm, understanding, and devoted to helping others who were the way that I was. I enjoy my life now, even when it sucks, and I look forward to what the future holds. I have clearly defined what “femininity” means to me and I strive to be the woman that I’m meant to be, in every way. I’ve become a free-thinker and incredibly educated/experienced in the very fields that I wanted to go into as a child. I’ve crossed milestones and I’m still crossing them. And I have a relationship with God that literally nourishes my body from the inside-out and every aspect of my life.