One Piece At A Time

People say that “people don’t change, you just get to know them better”

There is a bit of truth in that, for I myself know that for a fact, at least with what I figured out from my very own self. As I grow older and wiser, I learn more about myself every day.

Funny, right? For when you think you know exactly what yourself can do, still you find yourself surprised by the limit you push yourself through.

I found myself very contemplative today for whatever reason. I reflected back on the person I was 5 years ago compared to the person I am today. I know I’ve changed significantly… or should I say, I’ve got to know my self significantly better.

I remember a friend once commented on my character, when I was in high school.

He said:

“Michelle, I never see you get angry, even when things don’t go as you wish. I hope someday I get to see the day when you get pregnant, because with all the hormones, it is just impossible for you to not lose yourself.”

I laughed.

Let me tell you a bit about 5-year-ago Michelle.

She was a quiet girl. People mistaken her as shy, but really she was just a calm and poised person–peaceful with herself. She didn’t talk much not because she was shy around people but because she chose to be so. For her, every word that comes out of her mouth must have a purpose. When she talked, she was very soft spoken. Of course she lost herself and became very relaxed and open when she was with close friends or family. But when you put her in a large group of people that weren’t as close with her, she pushed a button that put up an invisible wall around herself. She avoided confrontation. Not because she was afraid, but because she didn’t want to hurt people. This description is just the tip of the iceberg.

Maybe all of those things are the reasons why my friend said that thing to me 5 years ago–and also why so many other people told me the same thing in the following years.

Until not so long ago. After I graduated, I started working and meeting new people. So, these people do not know me from 5 years ago. They know the today’s Michelle. And one person again commented on my character, but this time, she said:

“Michelle, you are very blunt. Straightforward and do not like bullshit. When you like something, you say it. When you don’t like it, you also say it.”

It hit me right there and then. What has happened to me?

The answer is, I got to know myself better.

5 years ago, I thought that I was made that way because it was just who I was. As time went by, I moved out of my comfort zone, met new people, learned new things, had brand new perspectives, I realized that:

I didn’t talk much because I didn’t like the possibility of people getting offended by my words. That’s why I chose my words carefully.
I avoided confrontation because I didn’t want to oppose something or someone. That’s why I stepped back and let them be.
I was soft spoken because I wanted people to feel relaxed. That’s why I tried to tone down my voice every time I speak.

I seem like a person who cares so much about other people’s feeling and well being, in expense of my own.

Until enough was enough.

In my effort to please people, I realize that the only person left unpleased was myself. Hence, the saying “you can’t please everybody.”

That’s when I found my voice.

The quiet girl started to speak up. Because she realized that if she doesn’t, stupid people will and she will be dragged into the stupid hole with the stupid people.

Because she realized that it is okay to be selfish. Because if you think about it, there’s no different between being selfish and being selfless, anyway.

Because she’s seen enough people doing the wrong thing and get away with it.

Because she knew that her voice matters just like others’ do.

It was not an overnight process but I finally found my true voice. The voice that made the difference between today’s Michelle and 5-year-ago Michelle.

I am surprised with myself. Didn’t know that I’m actually able to push myself to this point.

But I am glad that I did.

Just a little bit of a disclaimer here. It’s not that I changed myself completely, you know. If you’re lucky, you can still find 5-year-ago Michelle behind the wall. Yes, the walls still exist. I just have a louder voice that travels easily through the walls.

Occasionally, I might slip (re: have too much of a drink) and let you peek through the wall.

Just know that people grow and along the process sometimes they become… different. It doesn’t mean that they change completely.

It’s just that we are like a set of puzzles–we figure it out not all at once, but one piece at a time.


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