I used to be an avid reader of this blog, and this post, where she talks about evolving personalities, reinventions of self and shifting of all those little things that make us who we are, has always sort of stuck around in the back of my mind. eM does such a fabulous job, so I’m just going to quote her here:
“…they say you change the most in your twenties, possibly growing at a rate even faster than your teens. (Not physically growing, that ship sailed for me at sixteen, and I have been the same height ever since) This decade, I have reinvented myself at least three times, and sometimes, I feel a flashback to an older me, a reaction I forgot I used to have, that just crops up in moments of vulnerability, and I’m taken aback, I’m all, “Oh, right, I used to feel like that.” What happens to old personalities? Do we fold them up and put them away among mothballs? Where are the mes that used to be? Maybe, like an onion, if I kept peeling layer after layer of myself off, I’d find the original me, the me I began with. On the other hand, the me that lurks closer to the surface is who I am now, for better or for worse, my personality has formed, and it’s hard to break yourself of it.”
This is really what I have been wondering about all week, because in just six long days, I feel like the cynical, diffident, mostly-happy-but-somewhere-deeply-unhappy person has made way for a completely cheery, happy, smiling-a-little-too-much me. And that’s just scratching the surface. The superficial physical differences. Deeper down, I feel a kind of metamorphosis I wasn’t expecting. The kind that makes it feel like the life I was living just 10 days ago is a thing of the distant past. I cannot think back and imagine what that was like. I feel like eons have passed between then and now. I try and think back, but it feels strange, like a charade I was just playing along with. Like a point in time, that was just moving along to bring me to where I am now.
So what happened to the old me? Where have I gone? And who is this new happily exhausted me?
But wait, this is meant to be The Apprentice Diaries, right? What then, am I doing, talking about shifting selves and onion-peel like personalities? Here’s what brought it on: this last week at the cafe has been a week of turning all the hitherto closely held truths about my work and its relationship with life, upside down on their heads, shredding them to smithereens and creating new ones that evidently quickly shape who I am.
Turns out, I’ve been living under a rock and nothing I have thought to be true about how I feel about work, actually is. And it took just one week, to turn everything I accepted as inalienable truths, all the bits and pieces of events and experiences I have amassed over time, through sweat and tears (there was no blood involved, ever. Thank God.) around and see a new kind of me.
You know every time I thought I felt a sense of satisfaction with my work? Turns out that was not the real deal.
You know how every time I thought the struggle to learn something that would make my work better was a part of the ultimate fulfilling experience? Turns out it only is, if your heart’s in it.
You know how every time I thought I felt exhausted, mentally fried and just saturated, and I thought it was a natural by-product of working hard? Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
Because here’s some things that have never happened to me, ever before.
That pain in my legs at the end of the day? Is sweet. That fatigue in my body? I want some more of it. Hard work? It’s fun. And the pain, the fatigue and the exhaustion are all by-products I have never known to enjoy before.
Sense of satisfaction? It is a pure and unabashed feeling, that is really hard to fight. It’s not something I have to work towards or strive to achieve. It’s something that just happens. It creeps up on me sneakily when I’m busy doing the task on hand, oblivious of its really going to make me happy or not.
Learning on the job? Is fun when your heart craves it like the chocolate muffin you’re going to take home at the end of the day, and it comes naturally and in vast amounts when I am in the zone and soaking it in like a wet sponge.
Being happy with my work? It’s not an elusive shadow, changing shapes every minute. It is right there. And it’s mine for the taking. I just have to let go of fear, go with my gut. And grab it.
This is probably what they meant when they said, find something you love, and you will never work another day. No wonder it only seemed like an unachievable task, until today.
Something about this last week at the cafe brought eM’s post back to mind with a vengeance, and has left me with echoing thoughts of just how much has changed, how soon, and how it feels like nothing will ever be the same again. It’s also left me befuddled about how quickly we shed our old selves, about how when the time is right, we learn to let go and move on.
Where do we pack away the many pieces of our lives? The million experiences and truths that when puzzled together add up to make us who we are?