“Can you remember who you were before the world told you who you should be?” I have been pondering this question for days and it is not until now that I can actually remember who I was. Before my bike accident I was just a kid who looked up to Winnie Cooper from the sitcom The Wonder Years. I was usually happy and outgoing and never really cared what I looked like or what clothes I should wear and all that. I was just a silly girl who enjoyed the little things in life like catching leaves with my dad in the park. Although I had a lot of rough times as a child, I had a lot of happy times. I believed anything could happen and had no doubts in the world. I remember jumping off the couch convinced I could teach myself to fly. I always wanted to be a bird just flying around for hours. I would watch the movie “Dirty Dancing” multiple times a day practicing each dance move convinced I would one day be a dancer. I enjoyed each moment because each moment was just so fun. I worried more than a child should but my worries did not last long and they did not intrude on the fun I was having. Every day was an adventure. I owe a lot of that to my dad because he showed me the simple things in life are what matter. On snowy days we would walk around the woods pretending to be lost and starving. After my acting classes my dad and I would walk home and one of us would pretend to be blind and the other would have to guide the person home. I would take my dad to random houses pretending that we lived there. Looking back, he obviously knew what I was doing but I was clueless and having a blast. Nobody told me who I should or should not be. I was just me: a happy, mostly carefree kid who loved to play and imagine and laugh. I did not wake up every morning in a state of worry. I did not sweat the small stuff because there was too much fun to be had.
I truly believe a lot changed for me following my brain surgery. I woke up with half a shaved head and that was just what was seen on the outside. Since that day I do not think I have ever been the same. I guess, brain surgery will do that to you. It also happened at a pretty crappy time in my life: three months before starting seventh grade in a new school. I was not used to being judged on how I looked, what I wore, and how I acted. I didn’t know who I was supposed to be for a long time. Many times I lost myself in an effort to be accepted. Chronic pain only made that worse because I was fighting so many battles and at the same time trying to loved by my friends and family.
I am thirty two years old now and I have a good touch on who I am. I know exactly who I want to be and that is more than I can say for the majority of my life. For the most part I like who I am. I do not like how I react to situations and I do not like how I allow myself to believe other people’s negative opinions of myself. I want to be more in touch with my inner child so that I can once again try to fly and pretend to get lost in the snowy woods. I am very lucky that my daughter enables me to bring out my inner child and once again be that kid that had no worries even if it is for a short time.
It is very sad how we lose who we are as we grow older and we are told by family, friends, and the media who we should be. We forget who we truly are. Each day I try and just be myself. I will keep evolving and continue to grow and change but I want to work on not allowing anyone or any outside forces to tell me who I should be. I know inside I am a great person with love and purpose. We all have to stop expecting other people to make us happy and give us gold stars. Expectation can be the thief of joy. Try and remember who you were/are. Try and not expect anyone else to give you the love and happiness we should be giving ourselves. You know who you are, I think we all do. Be yourself and work with me to stop expecting others to approve of who you are.