We settled into a booth in the back of the restaurant. We talked about work, God, love. We caught up on where old friends ended up–have you heard from her lately? How is she?
Then we talked about my move, about what life is going to look like a few weeks from now.
“Coming back home is hard” I said, taking a sip of water. “I become the worst version of myself. You think you’re a different person and then instantly you come home and you go right back to the person you used to be.”
Straightforward, confident, she looked at me in the eyes and said these words,
“People don’t change, they make different choices.”
I felt them in my gut. She’s right. At the end of the day, we are who we’ve always been. But we wait to wake up one day and be someone else, to feel different things. We think that moving away and starting over is going to instantly make us become someone new.
It doesn’t. I’m realizing that in these few weeks of being back in my hometown. I was in Georgia for a year and a half, I thought I became a different person. I thought I was better. But then, I came home and old habits came barreling in and were sitting on my chest like they never left.
It wasn’t that I changed in Georgia, it was that I made different choices. I gave myself a chance–to be who I really am, without all the baggage, without all the chapters of brokenness that were tattooed to me before I left.
New places and blank slates don’t change us, but they are usually the only reason we give ourselves a real chance to be who we’ve always been.
We’re always trying to get to some better version of ourselves, but what if the best version of us has always been there? What if we just covered it up with all the pain, judgement, and words from the years of living we’ve had so far?
I kept thinking about the four of us. In that group of girls, there were four of us who were always drawn to sadness, to the brokenness. You could find us listening to melancholic music and weaving ourselves in and out of those lyrics. We called it our personalities, a part of us that had always been there.
She and I talked about that. We talked about how easy it had always been for us to see pain and how that might be something that never changes.
There are some advantages to being able to see and feel brokenness in all its magnitude.
But then we talked about how we had to turn away from that kind of sadness, because we knew that we would never change.
We wouldn’t just wake up one day and forget how to feel pain. We wouldn’t stop loving sad songs, movies with less than happily-ever-after endings. But we knew that we had to make different choices. We had to choose not to put them on our daily playlist. We had to often pick a different genre of movie.
We had to choose not to focus on the hard things, even though the temptation would always be there.
We haven’t changed, but life is different. Life doesn’t look the way it did when we were sixteen. But we didn’t change, we just grew up and decided that we had to make better choices.
The choices bring the change, not the other way around.
You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and love working out. You won’t wake up tomorrow and have no feelings toward the person that broke your heart. You won’t magically wake up tomorrow happier, healthier, stronger, more beautiful than you are today.
The change you want to see is in your choices–it’s not in a formula of moving away, and starting over. You’ll be the same person tomorrow, even if you wake up in a different place.
I’m starting to think that there’s a part of me that will always be this girl. Some part of me knows that I’ll be the girl who gets impatient with the people of my hometown, who is drawn to days spent lying in bed and accomplishing nothing. That I’ll always be drawn to being the person who wants to throw away responsibility because I’m an all or nothing kind of girl–if I can’t do it perfectly, I don’t want to do it at all.
That’s not going to change. I won’t just open my eyes ten years from now and not be that girl. But the change comes in choosing patience, getting out of bed, choosing responsibility, giving myself the grace of making mistakes a long the way and not throwing it all away when I do.
Sitting in that booth, she and I were the same girls we’ve always been. We still laugh at sarcasm, can read each other’s facial expressions, still love pizza. But life is different and that’s because of the choices we’ve made. Day by day, we chose different things, places, roads to take than we used to.
I’m starting think that Robert Frost guy was on to something. It was the road that diverged in the wood, not the person.
It came down to choice–and in the end, that’s what made all the difference