A while ago, my dad gave me a hard-drive that contained some old files of me and my sister. I decided to look through it and toss what I no longer need. But while looking through it, I came across all these old pictures of me, my sister, our family and our friends.
It was so strange seeing myself. I remember once, a few years ago, some of my college friends and I were looking at pictures of us through the years. And if there’s one thing that stood out, it’s how much I changed every single year.
It feels like I have been so many different people. Like I tried all these people on before finding who I really am. There was hip-hop dancing, platinum-blonde me; depressed, emo, brown-haired me; retro-loving me and so many more versions of myself I hardly recognize.
I see these pictures of myself and the only thing I remember is how bad I used to feel. The pictures on the hard-drive were mostly from the years during which I was experiencing my depression. I compared then-myself with my then-sister and it made me feel a little sad. Depression seems to have stolen several years of my life during which I should have been enjoying being a teenager (“wish I’d been a teen-idle” -Marina). My sister’s pictures show her doing things I should have been doing but I was too caught up in the darkness to even try.
It could have been easy, getting hung up on the feeling of feeling sad for all the things I missed out on. If I were still the person I was back then, I probably would have. But quite quickly, the feeling of sadness and longing for a do-over, changed to gratefulness.
Thinking of the person I was then, of everything I (or my mind) had put myself through makes me feel so incredibly, uncontrollably grateful for where, and who, I am today. I’ve gone through so many changes, both mentally and physically, to try and find who I am. I tried so many things. And now, after being out of depression for several years, living on my own (both in my own country and abroad), reading a lot of books, letting go of friends that weren’t lifting me up and making new ones that do, finishing my degree, getting surgery, traveling, and finding out that writing is my passion, I’m finally here.
When I look in the mirror, I recognize myself. The person looking back at me, finally feels right. I’m no longer insecure about how I look and am, because I finally feel like I really AM myself, both inside and out. It’s like mentally I’d figured out who I really am, and it took a little while for the outside to catch up, but right now, in this moment everything seems to fit right.
So who am I?
I am Isabelle. I’m incredibly clumsy, a bit strange and I am incapable of small talk. I love books and am currently writing one of my own. I feel most myself when I wear a dress, my patched-up jean jacket and my vegan docs. I love music; old-school pop-punk-rock (yes, I still listen to McFly), musical soundtracks, folk and (oddly enough) country. Whenever I’m alone I sing along very loudly and emotionally to whatever I’m listening to. I’ve got curly hair that I like most when it’s all over the place. I left my heart in London, the first time I went there, and I don’t feel like I’ve lived unless I go there at least once a year. And everything about me, including this entire list, could change. But when things change, now, I don’t change them to try to be someone else. They simply change because I do. And that is perfectly okay.
To everyone out there who feels like they should have spent a lot of time doing other things. To everyone who feels they’ve lost their teenage years or given away time to someone who didn’t deserve it. To everyone who doesn’t know what to do now that they seem to be behind on their peers:
Be grateful! Be grateful for where you are now. Be thankful for the fact that all the pain, shit and darkness wasn’t for nothing. It got you here. It made you who you are. It let you figure out who you really are.
Be proud, be grateful and smile! Make everyone wonder how you came to feel so great about yourself.