“Nostalgia is a seductive liar” - George Ball
Do you ever get stuck reminiscing about the past, longing for how things used to be? A time when life was easier, more fun, less complicated. If only things could be like they used to be. If only you could go back to college and relive those days- fully appreciating them this time before life got so….hard.
Well I’ve decided to call BS on that.
“Nostalgia is a seductive liar.”
Today I want to share a piece of my own journey and the things I’m learning about myself right now. What I’ve realized, in a nutshell, is that my memories are deceiving AND they have been holding me back from living my best life.
I am 33 years old, I’ve been married for 3 years, last year we bought a house and moved to the suburbs. I have 2 bonus kids, 2 dogs, a 9:30 bedtime and an ever increasing amount of grey hairs that I’m covering up. Sometimes I look around and I barely recognize my life. I’m extremely happy and blessed, but it seems like life changed so drastically that I can barely keep up with it at times.
For over a decade, my identity was being this young, slim, independent, career driven, never-settling-down, city-loving, fun girl (at least, this is how I thought of myself). Compare that to the list above of what my life is now and it just seems night and day. I’ve found myself feeling like I’ve lost who I am and almost desperate to get it back.
Over and over again, I say to myself, “I’m not as ___ as I used to be.” (in shape, fun, exciting, sexy, driven, independent, etc.) How did I become this boring, middle aged (that’s an exaggeration), homemade bread baking, mom?? My confidence has taken a big hit because of this and it honestly wears on me a lot.
Until...one day recently I randomly looked at my old Facebook account (I’ve been off FB for about 3 years and it’s been glorious). I went through all the pictures of my twenties and had a response mixed with absolute horror, laughter...and so much happiness. Here are some things I realized:
1- Your girl was struggling. The outfits. The piercings. The tattoos. The fake tans. The EYEBROWS. It’s not at all what I remember. I died laughing, tears streaming down my face, and it was so good for my soul. I’m reminded that we remember things the way we experienced them and I thought I was hot stuff at the time. My memory has deceived me. I have so much peace knowing that aging has been SO good to me. I don’t want to look 21 again.
2- I forget the pain I was in. That’s another thing about memories- I tend to hold on to the good and release the bad. But looking through those pictures, I remember being in the club, posting pics while deeply in pain over some boy, but trying to show the world I was fine. My coping skill after a bad fight or break up was to get attention somewhere else and never, ever let them see you cry. I’m reminded how many times I cried alone though- something I haven’t done in 4 years now. I’m filled with gratitude. The idea that things were easier then is inaccurate.
3- I had a shallow confidence. Here’s the thing-- 20 year old girls are told that they have permission to be confident and, let’s be honest, vain, if they are skinny but curvy, pretty yet natural, sexy, independent, and fun. I knew I could be confident because I was getting validation from all around me. I was so self-absorbed back then. I realize it’s totally normal for that age and stage of development, but I bet I was so annoying to those around me (sorry everyone). Part of why I struggle now with confidence (and yes, I do sometimes) is because I’m not sure what 30 year old's are “supposed” to be confident about. Our bodies have changed. Our lifestyles have changed. Our priorities are completely different. I think this is a huge problem for women that we need to discuss more openly. But I do know- I don't want that old confidence back.
4- And finally, as I’m looking back at these pictures, all I can think is... Man, I love that girl. 20 year old Julie was doing the best she could to navigate growing up, getting hurt, finding my path, and making the best with what I had to work with in a world that was telling her lies about who she was created to be. I was a hustler. I am proud of her.
But I am not her any more. I’m a grown ass woman now and those pictures helped me to stop romanticizing the past. I can’t tell you why it was so impactful for me but I felt an immediate release of the “I’m not as ___ as I used to be” because... it is so true.
I am better now.
I am wiser.
I see the fruit of the spirit in my life.
And I am still growing.
THIS. This is what gives me my confidence now and I am fully giving myself permission to lean into that confidence this year. 2021- my year for growing and glowing.
What memories are you holding onto that are holding you back?