I’ve been struggling a bit this year. Last year I felt like I’d recreated myself, but the more time passes, the more I’ve realized that you can’t just quit your old self.
I’ve been trying to separate myself from who I was, and every time a little bit of her comes out to play, I’m wrecked with guilt over how terrible I am because… wait for it… I got drunk in a bar, and apparently I’m horrible for doing that.
I wasn’t exactly a wonderful human being back then — being a dick to people I actually cared about, falling for all of the wrong guys, trusting shitty people — so much of that is just part of growing up and getting older. You make bad decisions, you learn from them.
And while I’m not proud of my vices during my true “downward spiral,” that’s actually the period of time where I met a lot of people who are still by my side. And there are pieces of that girl that I look back on and smile in pride at. No, I do not condone taking adderall like it’s candy and skipping meals and getting blackout drunk on purpose, but I am kind of proud that that specific period of time marked a point where I stopped taking shit from people. I spoke my mind. If someone was being an asshole to me, I did not hesitate to tell them that to their face in the moment.
New York City brought me back to life. I became an old form of myself, where I didn’t trip over my words, and could handle four drinks and still appear completely sober. My dreams ran wild, and the energy of NYC made it feel like I could have whatever I wanted.
But returning to St. Louis started this conflict within myself. There’s a slice of me that feels like I have to drop my old persona completely. I have to become someone else. I have to be a good girl. Not get drunk, always be sweet and kind, and keep my head down, nobody’s looking at me anyway. I’m not attractive, I’m plain, that’s why I’m single. That’s who I’ve been convincing myself that I am over the past couple of years.
But that’s not me. I’m not shy, I have anxiety, and there’s a big difference between the two. If I were truly shy, I wouldn’t have been a cheerleader. I wouldn’t have been drawn to performance. I wouldn’t have wanted to be alone on that stage with all eyes on me and dream of being the best. I wouldn’t have worn heels on a random Monday to class just because they went with the outfit. I wouldn’t have worn the least amount of clothing to my first college halloween party (as Lady Gaga, of course), knowing damn well that I’d be judged by some for it. I don’t think I’m ugly, I don’t think I’m plain. That’s not me. I’ve always wanted to be seen.
And while, yes, that period of my life is behind me — my degree is in psychology, not music, and I couldn’t tell you the last time I picked up my saxophone — I think that in trying to get my life back on track, I’ve forgotten a bit about who I am. I wanted there to be a clean break. I wanted to fully separate the old me and the new, but life isn’t that black and white. You can shed layers and grow, but there will always be remnants of who you used to be, and when my old self slipped out a couple of months ago, I was forced to begin to come to terms with this.
I got drunk with some coworkers and hit on one of the very few straight men that I work with. I woke up the next morning mortified. Literally nothing happened, I was just a bit forward. I was teased about it at work, and was so incredibly embarrassed that I pulled him aside during the day and apologized. He refused to accept my apology and said I did nothing wrong and that it was a fun night. But I’ve been teased about it off and on as time has passed, and each time, I lower my head a little bit more and make myself a little bit smaller, because I’ve convinced myself that I can’t be her anymore. I’m convinced that any version of myself that even resembles 2011-2013 Becky is bad and horrible and I need to be the exact opposite of that.
Where’s the girl who used to walk through campus and see people she made out with the night before and not bat an eyelash? I had just been flirty. Nothing had happened. And yet I’ve felt so small because I’m clinging to this idea that I have to be innocent. Newsflash: I’ve never exactly been innocent.
I don’t want to be the quiet girl. I have never wanted that. But I have anxiety, and so sometimes I do bite my tongue and have a hard time being in the spotlight. I don’t want to be the girl who’s mortified that she FLIRTED with a cute guy when she had a couple too many glasses of wine. I don’t want to be the girl who looks at the floor instead of looking someone in the eye. I don’t want to be the girl who’s afraid of living life because she’s so obsessed with trying to be anything but who she once was.
I am my old self. I’ve grown a lot and put down some nasty habits, but I am who I’ve always been. And nothing good comes out of trying to be someone else except extreme guilt and anxiety whenever who I really am comes out.
There was something about walking the streets of Manhattan in four inch stilettos that made me flash back to walking the halls of Ophelia Parrish, the sound of my heels echoing through the building. I used to get asked a lot why I was wearing heels when I didn’t have to be dressed up. My response?
“Because I can, and I want to.”
I think I’m going to take that attitude back.