A lot can happen in four years. One day, you’re sixteen and the next you’re in your twenties, you realize that you’re in a completely different environment; with new people, new goals and responsibilities you never even knew existed.
As a young adult, these changes can be overwhelming, I would know. This is arguably the hardest part of the growth process. However, loss and change are instrumental to growth. At the risk of sounding cheesy, you sometimes have to lose a lot to find yourself. This is a personal piece on how losing faith helped me find myself.
“The only constant in life is change”
I grew up hearing that things change, there’s a famous quote by Heraclitus to that effect, and it couldn’t be more true. You probably heard it too when you were little. Most of us did, and yet when we did grow up, we ended up realising how horribly unprepared for the changes we were facing.
When I entered my twenties, it was difficult to come to terms with just how much had changed. I looked different, I didn’t enjoy the things I used to, I had outgrown most of my childhood friends, my food choices had even changed. When I look at old pictures of myself, it is hard to stare at them for long because it’s just like staring at a stranger. I’m not sure which is harder to accept; the person I used to be, or the person I am now.
I had a pretty well-rounded upbringing, courtesy of my parents. But what I failed to realise was just how much work would be required of me. I was developing my own feelings, my desires, my fears and my relationships. And the more I grew, the more I realised that I was losing faith in the majority of things I held onto as a child, it was (is) like swimming against currents in a sea.
For the longest time, I felt lost. This person I was becoming, she wasn’t the same person I grew up with. I fought her, trying to hold on to bits and pieces of who she was, and it made me very unhappy. When I finally gave in and embraced myself, it felt like I was being bathed in light; it was a deeply freeing experience.
A lot of young adults face the same struggle when growing up. We almost always resist ourselves, finding it impossible to accept who we are. For many of us, it’s because we don’t want to disappoint our parents, we hold on to the image of who we used to be because we’re afraid that if we are honest about who we are, we’ll lose their love and acceptance. For others, we cling desperately to the past to avoid dealing with just how much we’ve changed, and what this might mean for our future. Sometimes, it’s both; sometimes it’s neither.
Whatever our reasons, we could all probably agree that it sometimes seems like the lesser evil to play pretend, dancing in the shadows of the past, afraid to have the light shine on our present selves. Change can be frightening.
Still, it is inevitable. And from my experience and that of many people I know, embracing it could result in so much beauty and joy.
You’re not the person you used to be, and that’s okay
There is so much radiance and power in individuality. There is beauty in being authentic, in being true to who you are. It starts with accepting the little parts of yourself, in making small decisions each day that align with your thoughts, your wants, your needs and your goals. Then, with time you can make the transition into the bigger things, the parts that scare you.
For me, it had to do with embracing my personal style, the kind of books I enjoy, the kind of movies I like to watch, the people I’m attracted to, and eventually, I found myself searching for answers to bigger questions regarding my faith and my plans for the future- what would truly make me happy.
It wasn’t easy, but it was completely worth it to have the freedom and inner peace I have now. Discovering yourself is so important, embracing those changes are so important, because that is the only way to define the path that makes you happy, and walk in it.
“Let it go”
Yes, that was a Frozen reference. Growth can mean different things for everyone; losing faith, outgrowing belief systems, finding a new tribe, redefining your goals, etc. But to me, what it really means is letting go of things that no longer serve you in order to grab on to the things that will.
Yes, it can be difficult, it was for me. But it is so worth it. You get to love the person you’re becoming, and acknowledging changes can help you help younger people who are going through changes, and ease up the process for them. But most importantly, you gain the priceless inner peace and confidence that come with accepting all your quirks and intricacies.
Disclaimer: this article may or may not have been inspired by the theme song of the animated series Big Mouth, “Changes”.