jovenile: (respect the old but seek out the new.)
It occurs to me that the past five years has had an indelible mark on the kind of personality I've become, and I've been examining this recently by looking at a series of trades I've made over this time.

I've traded some of my svelte girlish figure for something a little softer 'round the edges; but the confidence I've earned in return would make 17-year-old me envious and maybe a little bit ashamed. I can walk into any store in the mall, hand in a resume and get an interview within the next day because I know what I'm worth. Is it work in my field? Not yet. But I'm pretty sure that'll happen too; I just need time (and a steady supply of job openings). I can spend a night in a bar, make a few witty quips and have someone invested at the end of the evening (even though I am happily taken, thank you). I can wear a pair of heels with the same aplomb with which I rock a hard hat and coveralls. I can hold a conversation with a total stranger about their job, their kids, their stories. I can do this because I know what I have to offer is of value, and it makes me realize that what other people have to offer is of value, too. Not that I didn't know that already, but it's a lesson that's occasionally forgotten and always useful to revisit.

I've bartered five years of freedom - indentured myself to long nights of heat and mass, chem eng reactions, 3D vector calc, physchem, orgo, stats, and the ever-dreaded programming (real programmers wouldn't call it programming, actually, so... sorry for any offense?); developed and broke an addiction to caffeine; irreparably wrecked my already strained sleep cycle - for knowledge. People say things get harder to learn as you get older, and oh, they do. I no longer have the facility for facts and trivia that I used to. But year after year I become ever more wise. My head is stuffed with knowledge, and I am certain that most things I don't know, I have the capacity to learn. I have been tested and tried and came out alive. It wasn't as long or as hard of a test as everyone gets but it drew blood all the same. Blood, and sweat, and tears.

I've exchanged passion for pragmatism. This one makes me a little sad, actually. To be quite frank, I'm nowhere near as fiesty a creature as I was before I was properly broken to bridle. I'm not dead, though; I'm just... matured. Some would say that's laughable (thank you, boyfriend), but the thing is, my passion is not diminished: it is focused. If that means I no longer have lightning eating away at my insides, ready to burst out of my thinnest-skinned places as solar flares escape the sun, then so be it. I like to think I have enough sparks in me yet that I could still eat hot coals and spit out fire. Not every war can be fought and won. Not yet. I don't have to like it (I don't like it). But sometimes if you can't fix it, you just gotta stand it.

Recently my boyfriend has taken to reminding me of all the stupid things I used to do when we first met. My temper was scarcely under control; I found offense in so many little things, and expressed it, loudly and often. Not to say I am less loud or frequent in my expressions nowadays, but I do like to think I am a lot more understanding, and maybe a little more forgiving, too.

17-year-old me was an okay kid. I like myself now better.

For a long time I struggled to feel valued, to beel worth...ful? Worthy? Worth something, anyway. Felt like a sell-out and a hack, useless, stagnant, but I'm not. I'm not. Am I perfect? Not a chance. Will I ever be? Nope. But the fact that sometimes - not always, but sometimes - I can step away and look at myself and say, "Yeah, kiddo, you did good"? That's progress. That's amazing to me. That I don't have to live in a cycle of perpetual self-loathing, or self-pity. If this sounds a little self-congratulatory, well... it is. But I'm starting to think maybe I deserve it. A little bit of it. Maybe.

Maybe.
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calamity jo

November 2015

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