It has been six months since I graduated. In that time I feel as though two worlds have slammed into each other. When I left this place I was a naive, scared eighteen year old girl. I cried when my mom left me in that dorm room. I thought that was the lowest I would get. I was wrong.
I spent four years separating myself from anything that ever was. At the time I don’t think I would have registered as so, but now I see that I was trying to reinvent myself. And I did. It wasn’t always a smooth ride. In fact I don’t think it ever was. The self I was trying to create definitely took many drafts. Drafts that I wish not to claim, but I must.
But I won’t bore you all with my life story. I’ve done that too much already. I never would have dreamed of ending up in my hometown after graduation. Yet here I am. And if I thought that the young woman who walked across McPherson College’s stage in May was the final draft of Erika, wow was I wrong.
Try going back to a town where everyone expects the girl they knew four years ago. And what makes that so frustrating is that I don’t even remember that girl. I guess I have my perspective of what she was like, but no one shared with me theirs.
Now I hear things like, “you act like I don’t know you” from my own family members. And it makes me cringe because they don’t know me. They weren’t keeping up on the last 4 years of changes. And because of that, they’re still reading the first edition of Erika without even picking up the 2nd. Let alone the 3rd that is being written now.
Anyways, you get the picture. I’m in this town that has preconceived ideas of me. But they aren’t the only guilty ones. I came back here, wearing the same glasses I wore four years ago. Seeing everything in the same light. The difference is that I ditched my glasses months ago.
I started to get involved in the community (thank God for my boss throwing me into it). And let me tell you, this little town truly is a gem. The servant leadership and sacrifices that take place here are tremendous. The townies reading this are probably thinking I’ve gone crazy, but maybe they have the wrong glasses on, too.
I grew up in a family that had (still has) no/limited sense of community. I don’t think it’s their fault. They went through many struggles and only ever had family to count on. Outsiders aren’t something I was ever taught to put trust in. They have bad intentions and only look out for themselves.
Luckily, while I was away reinventing myself for the past four years, I was also changing my definition of community. In that time I learned to lean on those who didn’t have the same blood as me. And this is why my two worlds crashed into each other.
Here I am with my new glasses on. The glasses that highlight community in all of its glory. But now I’m around my family again. And they don’t realize it, but they are constantly trying to rip my new glasses off to put the old ones back on. I want to share my eyes, but they have to be willing to accept them first.
To save this from being a therapy session, I’ll say this: There will always be something or someone trying to pull you back in time. The familiarity of the old you is comfort to them. But sometimes selfishness is good. And this is one of them times. You’re writing a new, better version of yourself for a reason. Don’t start ripping out pages to make others feel better. Work on you. Publish that edition. And then start on another.
Growth and change never stop. In the words of Dory, “just keep swimming”.
With love, from my fortress. ❤