Looking back is always interesting, and especially now at this point in my life. It has been almost three and a half years since I graduated high school and started going to college. And in some ways, it feels like less time, and others it feels like so much longer. For example, when I hear music that I played in orchestra, a lot of it I remember super well and it seem like it was less than a year ago that I was playing that music. On the other hand, I can think of friends I originally met in the last three or four years, and it feels like I have known them for so much longer than that.
But either way I am feeling at the moment: like high school just happened, or feeling like it was way in the distance, I still initially don’t feel like I am too different a person than I was four years ago. That conception is so far from the truth when I actually look back at things or writing from back then.
One thing I have thought of while thinking about this is to look around my room and the things in it. First of all, I am in a different room than I was four years ago. But other than that, looking at the things on my desk, on my wall, and on my shelves, I am realizing just how much of it was not here four years ago. The only things I can see that I also had four years ago are a few pieces of paper on my bulletin board, a small chunk of the games on my shelf, and my violin. This is drastically less than even six months ago. Six months ago, I still worked at the same store that I started working at my junior year of high school and would have had my name tag, hat, and apron from that job hanging around. Now these kind of changes aren’t necessarily really good or really bad, just part of the progression of my life. Of course I am a lot happier with my current iPhone than if I still had my old sliding text phone from high school, but it hardly represents a huge change in who I am from then to now. One more example is the change in the music I am listening to. A lot of what I listen to now either didn’t exist four years ago, or I didn’t listen to it then. But again, the fact that I am listening to No Sound Without Silence by the Script as opposed to Science & Faith by the Script hardly shows a true change in me as a person.
One other way to look into the past is to look at how I interacted with friends four years ago. One pretty simple way to do this is to pull out my old cell phones from junior high and high school. Now this was back in the days when you had to delete all your text messages every few days because the phones could only keep 100-200 of them, but still I never deleted that last batch, and that can give some interesting insight. One thing that surprises me is how similar some of it is to how I text now. But other than some small things, I did interact with others via text very similarly to how I do now.
The meaningful difference comes when I take a look at other more personal writings from four years ago. After recently taking a look at some old journals and an old blog from 2012, I am shocked to realize how much has changed since then. I guess it is just because we live this life one day at a time and we feel change so gradually, but the few times in the past few months I have looked back at my writing from 2012, I am in disbelief at how recently that was and how different things were. The good thing is, the change I can see is all for the good.
So, I have struggled with depression since around my junior year of high school. I didn’t really come to terms with it until the next year, but when I did, I realized that junior year was when it started. Then, the following year, my freshman year of college, was definitely the worst for my depression. After that, I was able to start to talk about it, and have step by step been doing better ever since. The weird part is, I think my mind tries to block out the worst of it, because when looking back in my head, I know it was worse then, but it doesn’t seem that drastic. That is, until I reread some things I wrote back then.
I have never been that big into writing things down. This blog is out of the norm for me, and I almost never have documented things going on in my life, but I think God had me write during the hardest parts of my life for a specific reason. Being able to look back and see how much I have improved is so encouraging. Without it, I would have to settle with what I remember, and wouldn’t be able to appreciate the changes that have happened and the way God shaped my life. Reading everything back about the countless days that I felt so alone, weeks at a time I would come home and just cry because I just couldn’t handle everything, and about how much of a fake smile I put on around other people is just mind boggling. Now I can remember that I felt so bad that year that almost every time I was around others, my smile was fake, I didn’t feel that way inside, but I didn’t want to bother anyone with my feelings or let people know that I was feeling that way. And I think I was pretty successful with that. People tended to be pretty shocked when I told them I was struggling with depression.
Comparing all of this to now, I am so appreciative for how much better I am doing now. Now, I don’t feel like I am having to put on a fake smile every time I see people. Do I still have occasional bad days? Yes of course! But they are nowhere near as bad as “bad days” used to be. I am so thankful for all the positive change and to be able to see how God has worked in my life since I started college. Especially when I find myself frustrated about something in my life not changing as fast as I would like. Looking back, I can realize that I probably felt the same way about tons of other things the last four years, but many of them did end up changing. You can’t get caught up looking at how much progress you make each day, because in the grand scheme of things, one day is very very small. It’s like looking at the big picture of your life.
So even though at a first glance, there may not be too many meaningful changes on the surface, and even if current things aren’t changing as much as I would like, God does constantly work in us, changing our hearts, and for that He deserves the highest of praise.