Losing Yourself

Ok, straight up, your life is going to constantly be changing, evolving, and messing itself up. This is not totally a bad thing. New people will come into your life, old people will fade away. Your job will change, even if you don’t change jobs. iPhones will keep getting bigger and bigger until they look like something Zack Morris would’ve used. And parts of you are going to change to keep up with all of this.

That being said, a lot of this change is good change. Changing job responsibilities means the chance to learn new shit (or learning new shit could lead to changing job responsibilities, either way). New phones mean new apps (which I am completely addicted to, btw.). We are constantly moving to new apartments, buying kittens and puppies, re-painting the livingroom walls for the 4th time, and picking up new hobbies.

All of these changes, that seem to come naturally in your life, pretty much are good things. They’re things that help you grow as a person, that help you evolve.

Then there are the changes that could go either way. That’s where all the new people in your life come into play.

You see, meeting someone new and amazing does something to us all. Our brains for from “Well, it’s Wednesday night, so I’d better grab my glass of wine and paint my nails while I watch Criminal Minds and read Cosmo” to “OMFG you are so freaking AWESOME!!!!!! Let’s hang out every fucking night!!! We can be besties!!!!! We can be together ALL THE FUCKING TIME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Don’t believe me? Just think back to any time ANY of your friends EVER got into a new relationship with someone. You guys used to spend Friday nights together, drinking beers and watching movies, until it became “date night”. Suddenly, you’re sitting alone at the bar, whining to the bartender about how you’re going to be single forever, while your BFF is out at a wine and cheese taster bar trying to match blue cheese with a Malbec (which is not a good idea, btw). It’s like your friend was abducted by love-aliens and replaced with this strange being who likes to go to Ikea and hold hands while looking at shit and saying “Oooh, if we got those throw pillows, and that bookcase over there, we could make a nook!”

Ok, now admit it: it’s not just your friends who have done that. We all have. I once dated a guy in university who was into bluegrass music and curling. I now know way too much about curling and Norweigan curling pants, and can actually sing along to some Flying Burrito Brothers songs. I also had stopped hanging out with my BFF and our frat-house friends most nights, started marathoning TV shows online (and this was before Netflix made it so damn easy to do. We had to work for our Drew Carey Show!). I was like this person that wasn’t totally me, but that I wouldn’t exactly throw shit at if I met them in public. I was like this shell, totally empty of the things that used to be me, and not filling up with any new awesome things to replace them. Instead of evolving, learning new things, picking up a new hobby that really interested me, I was just like this extension of the dude I was seeing.

And that’s when I lost myself.

There is a big difference between “changing bit by bit, bettering or evolving your tastes and yourself, in order to keep up with the times and not get into a rut that will bore you to tears” and “changing everything about you to match up with the person you’re spending all your time with”.

This is something that has been on my mind quite a bit lately, too.

You see, I just started seeing someone. Beginning of last month, I went out on a limb and flirted with this really really cute customer I’d see at work every day. He came back in later and left his phone number for me. We went out that weekend, and it turns out we have so much in common, it’s almost mind-blowing. Recently, we’ve been spending more and more time together (he was there for me quite a bit while I was going through that huge health scare and surgery thing with mum), and just this week decided to become an official couple.

But no matter how much alike we are, we are still different in a lot of ways. There are a lot of things we’d each like to try that the other likes, just to know each other better. He is willing to watch my favourite movies with me (which, with my odd taste, is something none of my exes ever did), and I’m willing to give Trailer Park Boys a chance if he’ll watch it with me. At the same time, though, I’m careful not to let this become some all-consuming quest to do all the things he does.

Case in point: Criminal Minds. He hates that show, refuses to watch it. That show gives me life. So if he’s over on a Wednesday night, we skip it and I stream the episode the next day online. If he’s not here, then I get a night with wine and Dr. Spencer Reid. While things are new and fresh, we’re taking time to learn more about each other and each other’s interests. But at the same time, we’re encouraging each other to just be ourselves.

Right now, we’re both at weird places in our lives. I’m working VERY part time, wishing I had put more effort into my writing over the years. He’s working full-time, but not in a position in his company that he can stay in much longer. On top of our regular everyday personal issues we deal with, we’re both contemplating our financial futures while trying not to let our present fall to shit. While we have that in common, our actual jobs (or possible jobs) couldn’t be more different. So, we encourage each other. He is constantly telling me that I need to write, that I’m a storyteller, that I need to get stuff down on paper or computer. He knows that I want to write, but just have had less than zero encouragement over the last decade or so. I know that he loves his company, but not the position he’s in. I try to help him look at other positions to look into there, things he can train into, in order to move to a completely different job there.

Do you see the differences there? Instead of giving up my favourite show, or making our current situation all about his need for a new job, we compromise. We help each other to grow, to learn. Any sort of healthy relationship, whether it be romantic or not, helps you grow into the best you that you can be. In my past relationship I mentioned, I gave up on growing “me” and instead grew to be “an appendage of him”. I totally lost myself.

It happens to the best of us, Sunshine. But we learn from it, grow from it, and move on with our lives.

So, with all this encouragement to write, expect to hear from me a bit more. Things at my current place have become……. interesting. I may have some new Roommates From Hell posts coming VERY soon!

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Make Yourself Memorable

As I’ve said before, I work in customer service at a very popular store near the university campus. I have friends in the area come through my line all the time. We’ll chat a bit, catch up, maybe make plans with each other. Other times, it’s people I haven’t seen in quite a while. Sure, we have each other on Facebook and have liked each other’s statuses from time to time, but we haven’t actually talked in ages.

A few weeks back, a young man came into the store. It took me a second to recognize him before I remembered him from his old fraternity. Back in school, we used to hang out at the DJ table at his frat parties, get goofy on the dance floor, and keep an eye on the other party-goers. We had what I thought were many a good talk at charity events, and would see each other regularly at greek events on campus. He wasn’t a very close friend, but a good enough acquaintance that I was happy to see him that day. When I walked over to say hi, he didn’t remember me. I brought up a few events we had worked at together, parties we were both at, a few memorable times we had……. and still, nothing. It wasn’t until I mentioned a certain friend that he had that light bulb moment. “Of course, you’re Becky’s friend! I remember Becky? How is she?”

Sadly, this happens a lot. I spent the fist part of my university career living with my best friend. We did everything together. When we weren’t in class, we were usually together. Having a lot of the same friends, this was pretty easy. We already went to the same parties, the same events, and the same bars. Living together AND being BFFs, it just made sense to just go to these things together.

After I moved out, not much changed. Sure, we weren’t sleeping under the same roof, but we were still together all the time. We joined some of the same clubs, sat on the same committees, even took a few classes together. Soon, people saw us as a pair, and our roles in this pair became clear: I was the Garth to her Wayne. She was the one everyone knew, everyone remembered, everyone talked to. I was just sort of…… there. Sure, I had a good time, and made a few good friends. But to everyone else, I was just sort of Becky’s shadow. Even when I ventured out without her, people asked me where she was.

Now, all these years later, this is coming back to haunt me. It turns out, I don’t have an identity of my own. I’m not anything to anyone. I’m nothing memorable. I’m just….. there. And you know what? It really, really sucks. People I used to know just two years ago look right through me, and only remember me once I mention Becky. And it’s not just the first time they run into me that this happens. The guy who came into my store? It turns out he lives across the street from me, and sees me pretty much every day from his study window. He still had no clue who I am, though.

I’m really not sure what kind of advice I can offer to make sure this doesn’t happen to you. I mean, obviously I more than failed at being someone who people remember. If anyone out there has any advice on how NOT to let this happen, please tell me! Because this really sucks. It hurts to realize that no one wants to remember you. It hurts knowing that you are just an afterthought when a certain someone else isn’t right there with you. And it hurts knowing that what you thought were great memories with great people were really just meh-times for them, not worthy of ever remembering again.