A question I find myself asking a lot to people I’ve known for a long time is: have I changed?
This kind of goes along with me reading through all my old blog posts. It’s interesting to me to see how I have and haven’t changed through the years. One friend of mine thinks I changed dramatically from before we lived in London to after. Certainly our family’s circumstances did change. Materially, our lives are really different. And there’s something about living overseas for a time, it’s hard not to let that experience affect you. It was only two years, but I still find myself talking about that time frequently to this day (in way that’s probably annoying to people – shut up about London already). But I experienced something different and interesting – it’s hard not to be changed by that.
However, there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want to change, that thinks it’s good to stay the same. That’s the motivation behind me asking the question. Have I changed? I hope I haven’t. That’s weird though, right? Change is neither good nor bad in itself, but if we want to grow, we necessarily have to change. Hopefully as the years pass I change a lot – I learn from experience, I grow, I mature. And yet, I ask friends if I’m changed, and if they say I haven’t, that I’m the same person, I take that as a compliment. Even if someone says that unprompted, I find myself relieved and happy. Why?
I have a couple theories, one of which is kind of cynical. That being: as we age the changes in us tend to be more negative than positive. We’re more judgmental, more inflexible, more snobby, especially if we’ve acquired any level of worldly “success”. So when I ask if I’ve changed, I’m asking if I’ve picked up those negative qualities that tend to accumulate as we age, and hoping that no, I haven’t. But yeah, that’s kind of a cynical view, that changes in our personality tend to be more bad than good. I’m not totally sure that’s true, but I think that’s a part of why I ask.
The other theory is that I’m afraid that if I’ve changed it will affect friendships I’ve had for a long time, as if we’ll outgrow each other, and I don’t want to see that. I’m a highly nostalgic person, and nostalgic of friendships probably most of all. But this doesn’t quite make sense either – friendships, like people, change, and need to grow like anything else. I shouldn’t be afraid of that.
Anyway, when I think about it more I think have I changed is a dumb question and I’m going to stop asking it. I have changed. I just hope that I’ve changed more in good ways and less in bad.