There are certain times in your life when you think you have your shit all figured out. You make a decision and, not knowing how the future will mold and shape and affect you, you think that you’ll keep to that decision for the rest of your life.
Vegan or vegetarian but have experienced cravings for red meat due to being pregnant? Want nine kids but don’t realize that as you get older, your deteriorating relationship with your family will influence your desire for a large brood? Think you want to keep your last name forever but then you realize you’re excited to have a change in identity due to marriage? Things change. Life happens. And just because you told your best friend when you were both thirteen that you wouldn’t want to adopt a teenager from foster care doesn’t mean that once you’re an adult you can’t do a 180 and decide that you’d prefer to adopt a teenager rather than a younger child.
Newsflash: People and choices change. It happens.
This is something I’ve come to terms recently, since I grew up in a small town and still keep in touch with friends I’ve known for fifteen to twenty years. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that when someone mentions something offhand, they’re going to stick to it for the rest of their lives. What’s worse, if you know someone long enough — or reconnect after a large chunk of time — you may assume that they copped out, weren’t sticking to their guns, or everyone’s personal favorite: the “you’ll seeeeeeeee” monger-ers were right, and you simply didn’t know that it would be way too hard to commit to your decision at the time. However, we tend to forget that people are allowed to change their minds.
Oftentimes, we fear admitting that we’ve changed our minds because very few people want to hear “I was RIGHT and you were WRONG.” But let’s say that was the case. Let’s say that, despite your best intentions, everyone who told you that you’d end up doing something different than what you committed to ended up predicting your future correctly. It’s less of an issue of “I told you so” and more a sign that you experienced life. Ever hear of a politician who switched parties and lost their credibility as a result? Why is that such a bad thing? Since when are we not allowed to be swayed by compelling arguments?
Try to focus less on the fear monger-ers and their insistence that they know what’s best for you better than you do, and accept the fact that YOU made the best decision that you could at the time, regardless of what the best decision would have been five or ten years earlier.
Things are different now then they were ten years ago — I’m different. And it took a lot of self-reflection to come to terms with changing my mind. I had to give myself permission to do that, as crazy as that sounds. I didn’t want the smug looks from people who told me that they knew what would work for me and I didn’t. And sometimes, when you hang out in the offbeat crowd and develop “special snowflake” syndrome, you tend to want to go against the grain simply so that you’re appropriately non-conforming. One of the things I’ve learned from the Offbeat Empire is that you need to make the decision that is best for you, regardless of whether or not it’s an on-beat or an offbeat one.
So what if you change your mind? That doesn’t make you weak or wishy-washy. What it does mean is that you’re a thoughtful, independent person. You took the time to figure out what would work for you, even if what would work for you is different depending on your stage in life. And you know what? That’s okay.
Living a life of personal accountability and authenticity means that you’re putting effort into your decisions, and there’s an ebb and flow that comes with that. Being true to yourself means being true to your whole self — no matter how or why you change. Change is okay. Change happens. Own it and ignore the nay-sayers and the fear monger-ers.
You are not static, and you are not the same person you were in middle school, or high school, or even a few years ago. And thank goodness for that, because how boring would that be?