Reinventing, Rebranding, and Restarting.
My blog’s origin story isn’t one I’m particularly in love with. I don’t remember much about last summer when I started this blog. If I’m honest, I switched SSRIs and spent as much time asleep as I physically could. In the year leading up to that, I’d been completely alone for a cumulative of maybe 96 hours. So, I wasn’t used to all of my newfound, unwelcome free time. I was grappling with the fact that I had no choice but to reinvent myself again, and I hated it. Nothing was going on in my life for me to romanticize. I would sleep, work, pick at my lunch, go back to work, take a barre class, and finally fall back asleep. That was my life. I felt 65 at 23. But not like a 65-year-old who was enjoying retirement, more like one who sat inside with the blinds closed and smoked a pack of cigarettes a day, while watching daytime TV.
I didn’t want to reinvent myself again. I had capped out on identities. I liked who I was leading up to that point. In the thick of what I thought was my permanent ticket to happiness, I’d compare pictures of myself from that year with pictures from the year prior and think about how much happier I looked in the more recent photos. I thought after struggling in pretty much every category, I’d finally been granted good karma. I made a Facebook post in August of 2021 about how much I loved my life and all of the new opportunities that I had in store for myself. My closing statement on that post was, “I’m pretty sure that manifestation is real.”
Just a year later, almost nothing I had been excited about was still serving me, if it was even present in my life at all. Honestly, I felt really robbed of my life. I felt like I’d woken up one morning and everything that I loved was snatched from my hands, and then I had to watch everything and everyone continue to thrive without me. I could write about it, but I didn’t know what to say. I was never the person who posted anything that wasn’t either aesthetically on brand for me, or a meme that was only funny to me. But I felt silenced and bound to the 4 walls of my room. I was living in a city where I couldn’t even go to the grocery store without having a panic attack. Quite literally, the world was spinning while I stayed still and silent.
I just wanted someone to hear me and not cut me off in the middle of my sentence. Even if no one read what I was writing, there was still the chance that they might.
THE ORIGIN STORY YOU DIDN’T ASK FOR
My first blog was about my dad. It was easy for me to start there. Everyone who knows me knows that a good portion of my personality is derived from having a dead dad. It does give me an S-tier sense of humor, I can’t even lie. Second, there wasn’t a risk factor when talking about my dad. I wasn’t writing about anything that could make anyone mad. He’s dead, it was true, and nobody else was there. I was writing about my experience growing up with an alcoholic parent and how I felt once he was dead. I won’t write about my dad again. There’s nothing more for me to say. I knew that going into it. It wasn’t completely uncharacteristic for me to talk about my dad and be honest about the fact that growing up around him was a terrible kind of chaotic at best.
I’ve always been a bit needy when it comes to validation and instant gratification. People telling me that I was a good writer felt like someone telling me that they understood me. Which was needed at that time. But I knew that my blog’s namesake wasn’t going to be completely legitimate, because my blog wasn’t about trauma dumping. It was about me, and the fact that I had to grow into somebody else, and eventually I had to like her. It was about liking myself, and the journey to get to that point, which was actively crushing my soul.
I went back and forth about the fact that if you were to Google me you’d find all of my deepest secrets spilled by me. My biggest fear about being vulnerable has always been that people wouldn’t be able to separate me from my emotions. If you’ve met me for more than like 11 minutes, you know that I’m pretty cynical, hugs make me uncomfortable, and I like to convince myself that all of my anxiety is a figment of my imagination. I don’t even post quotes on my Instagram story. My way of dealing with things is by giving myself the ick for myself. Once I’ve decided it’s cringe to cry, I’m usually good to go.
So, anyway, this was not my vibe. Actually, when my psychic told me to start a blog, I told him that I would if people that knew me wouldn’t be weirded out by the constant oversharing. His advice was something along the lines of, “Literally who cares.”
YOU HAVEN’T MET THE NEW ME YET
Do I think that everything happens for a reason? No, I don’t. I don’t think that there’s some concrete plan behind everything that is going to happen to me. I’m sure there’s a bigger picture, but I think that unfortunately, sometimes you’re just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes, people make shitty decisions and say mean things to you, and there’s no good reason. It just is what it is.
Alternatively, in tarot, there’s a card called The Tower. The Tower is that phase in your life where you lay on the floor crying and start thrashing around and asking, “Why me?” as the life that you loved starts to crumble around you. It’s when there’s nothing you can do to intervene, you just have to watch it burn. Eventually, with Tower moments, you’ll get this sense of, “Wait, I needed that to happen to me.” The Tower is when everything crumbles so that you can rebuild.
Everything was crumbling around me at that time. I felt really dramatic as it was all happening because there were days that weren’t awful in between the really terrible days. But I look back on that Facebook post from 2021, and my journal entries from August of the next year, and I can see the dark cloud surrounding the ink on the page. I can look back on it and say that it was a gut-wrenching loss that makes me nauseous to think about even now. I was living in an apartment that I was at one time excited to move into, in a city I’d loved for years. It was a place where I once felt independent and in charge. And I was doing all of the same things I used to, except it wasn’t making me feel anything anymore. I felt like I was trying to keep my own memory alive for myself.
I knew I had to go. It was a big leap for me to pack a bag and say that I felt more comfortable in my parent’s guest bedroom than in the apartment I paid for. It was a big ego crush for me to frequent the bar in my hometown that I used to make fun of. It was hard for me to answer the question, “Did you move out of Grand Rapids?” I had spent the year finding importance in my independence, and I didn’t have that anymore. I left for a 3-week stay in Arizona in October, and I haven’t been back to my apartment since.
Then, there was the challenge to find what I loved before I’d gotten myself into the situation that I was in. It was hard for me to track it down, it had been almost two years since I had to think about what made me happy when I was in charge of my own happiness. Obviously, 21 is a very different age than almost 24. So, those things don’t really make me that happy anymore. But, currently what makes me happy looks like drinking less and being present more. I’ve been traveling more these last few months than I ever have. I’ve been investing a lot of time into myself and trying things that I wouldn’t have, whether that be getting bangs on a random Thursday night, or spending more time in the gym. I’ve been focusing a lot on being grateful and making a point to journal daily. I even convinced myself to enjoy reading books and watching TV shows that I used to consider serious and boring. I always used to say that I didn’t have the attention span for either of those things. I do. I was just lazy.
Ultimately, liking myself is more about finding my peace. At this point in my life, that’s all I want. I don’t know what’s coming next for me, but I do know that once you’re at peace with yourself, it’s really hard for someone, or something, to take that away from you. I realized that the reason that I was a victim of a perpetual rebranding phase was because I was never at peace with myself, to begin with. Making one toxic trait your personality until it explodes in your face isn’t sustainable, even if it looks promising at first. And I’ve realized the perpetual glow-up phase is a result of letting people walk all over me. The reason I let people treat me the way that I did was because I was insecure and young. On the bright side, I’ll never be that naive again, but there’s also some sadness in the fact that I’ll never be that naive again. As I become more at peace with who I am, I’ve been beginning to realize that my ability to see through bullshit is improving and I have less patience for putting up with it.
I look back on the version of myself that I had to say goodbye to, and I know that I’m really only reminiscing about a 3 month period. But it’s a Friday night as I write this, and I’m writing a blog and hitting my water goal for the day, not yelling at a stranger in a bar, which is a milestone that only took me 3 months to hit. I’m not going to be violently ill and anxious when I wake up tomorrow. I’m going to be okay, and I’m going to be able to breathe. I’m glad I started this blog. I’m glad that I can look back and reflect on the journey. I’m glad that I’ll never forget what it was like. And I’m still 23, but I don’t feel 65 anymore. I feel 23, and I feel hopeful.