It’s the end of October. The air is crisp and thin and it reminds me of taking tests in school. Leaves are piling on the ground, slowly making skeletons of the trees.
I saw a picture of Britney Spears today and I thought to myself, “She looks old.” And then I wondered if I look old, too.
Recently, a friend unearthed a VHS tape containing footage from early in 2000 when we were ravers and posted it online. At the very beginning, I’m in the frame for a fleeting second. I was 18 then, with short hair and bad skin and a flat stomach. I remember exactly what I was wearing that night, though my outfit isn’t visible in the video. A desert camouflage tank top and dark grey pants a million sizes too big that were made of some sporty synthetic material that swooshed when I walked.
Seeing the video got me thinking about how much I’ve changed, if I’ve changed at all, and begging the question whether anyone ever really changes. It’s something we all obsess over: change. We’re afraid of it, we pray for it, we accept it, we avoid it, we succumb to it. We write catchy pop songs about it and let the promise of it guide us.
Looking back, I can acknowledge that things around me have changed, but I don’t know that I have. I still have the same bad habits and quirks. I’m still unreasonably impatient, I still procrastinate, still smoke cigarettes and practice very little self control when it comes to all the things that are bad for me, and I still worry about my butt and thighs being too big.
Since age 18, I’ve learned to cook and to write an “A” college paper. I now know how to drive a stick shift (though poorly) and how to change a keg. But have these things changed me? Maybe they’ve made me more capable, sure. But have I changed in some irrevocable way? I doubt it.
I will probably always soothe my aching, longing heart with junk food and whiskey. I will probably always feel a disconnect because of my introspective moodiness. I will probably always laugh at farts. I will probably never stop feeling nostalgic when I hear The Spice Girls. (But I will never again wear platform sneakers.)
I think it’s vital to accept what we cannot change, just like all those drunks have been saying all these years.
We have to give up control in the face of change, and at the core of this action we have to admit there are things we are powerless over. The broad strokes of our personalities make us who we are and we shouldn’t expect huge shifts to alter who we are. Just as we shouldn’t expect the leaves to stop falling in October. The snows come and go and the leaves come back with vibrance and purpose. The landscape may change but we can still rely on one season to follow the next just as it does every year.
I still go out dancing though my taste in outfits has changed. I still have the same dreams I had when my hair was short and my pants were too big. I’ve adapted to the changes around me by staying consistent in who I am, good or bad. And I wouldn’t change that even if I could.