It was one of those cool evenings that affects you in a way. I was sixteen and on my own in Spain for the first time, learning Spanish and getting lost in the streets. I was staying in an almost empty university accommodation because it was the middle of summer. One boy started chatting with me in the computer room and later that evening we sat in the middle of a roundabout, watching the traffic. He said he can read one thing from his palm of the hand and proceeded to show me that the place where the two lines start to separate, that’s when you become independent in life. My lines were separate from the beginning and he said: well that’s why you are here when you are sixteen. I have used this line reading as a party trick several times. I think we continued the night drinking Jack Daniels with his roommate. I never saw him again, I know he went off to live in New York. We wrote to each other a couple of times. I asked what’s new and he said: lots of things have happened, new relationships, new job, new city, but in heart, I am pretty much the same. I still remember it because I loved it! I used it so many times myself. So how much can people really change? Are we in heart still just the same? I really would like to think so. I really would like to think that in heart I was always the same.
I am currently reading a book about parenting “The book you wish your parents had read and your children will be glad that you did.” In one chapter it talks about how sometimes our reaction could be over the top because we are in fact reacting to how we might have been treated when we were that age. Instantly I thought that can’t possibly be it because I have zero negative memories from childhood. I couldn’t help myself though and started to think about my earliest memories, even the negative ones. That led me to re-read through my blog entries from ages ago and generally reminisce, messaging my old flatmates and friends. Now how much have I really changed? Ideally I’d just like to think I got a lot wiser and worldly, but it is cringing to think about some of my opinions from back then.
One thing that comes to mind is my teenage essay on whether there would be wars if women led the world. I proceeded to talk about how men should be leaders and women should wear pearls presenting an extremely antifeminist view. As a big believer in equality and someone who has unfortunately encountered a lot of chauvinism, I truly can’t believe I wrote it. Thankfully I don’t think the seventeen year old me would really vote for inequality, I just haven’t crossed paths with it back then. And for some reason, maybe I just wanted to have a different opinion to everyone else. I also remember having long conversations with my best friend, sharing her stories and some of her friends’ stories and realising how ignorant I have been. I could write about this for pages, but moving on.
The following might not have so much to do with change or heart, rather finally taking the time to study the topics. I used to think that a meal without meat is not a meal. How specific diets such as “gluten free” are nonsense unless you have an allergy. I was convinced that for cosmetics to work, it needs to be full of chemicals. I do believe that I used to enjoy shopping. Although now thinking what a nuisance it is, it’s really hard to remember. I also believe that I thought yoga was boring and the savasana at the end was too long!
I remember having quick opinions on things I have not researched. Sometimes reading a title would be enough to comment. I know I would never do that now. It is revolting against every inch of my being, but I do remember thinking something in the lines of this: It doesn’t really matter whether it was tested on animals or not because lots of companies that say they do not test, they purchase the results elsewhere. It was only my excuse not to research what I am buying. I am cringing at my former self, but I am also incredibly grateful that I have allowed myself to change. This is the same feeling when I now hear people saying: There’s really nothing wrong with cow’s milk. The cups will get recycled anyway. It’s organic meat so it doesn’t matter. I just can’t deal with washing the nappies. I don’t know how to shop second hand. Pretty much anything that is really convenient to ignore. Even today when we have all the information at our fingertips. I also know that nobody can be forced in any direction because I know I couldn’t be. And everything makes more sense when you get there yourself. Sometimes it’s pregnancy. Sometimes it’s the illness of a loved one or your own wellbeing. It can even be a visit to a third world country or a David Attenborough’s documentary.
So yes, I wish I could say that in heart I am still the same, but it would not be true. I am definitely a lot more openhearted, kinder, less judgemental and better yet, I know I am not finished.