You wake up and the light through the window seems different, the air carries a chill or maybe a hint of warmer days.
What has changed? You? The world?
It can be a change that happened this past year or one you’re looking toward in the time ahead. It can be a broad sweep obvious to all or a more subtle shift that only you know about.
This year my birthday present to myself was two handbags. Now I’m thirty, you see, I thought I ought to have a grown-up handbag, and carrying a black handbag while wearing brown shoes, or vice versa, is a thing that I don’t do without very good cause.
Grown up. That’s what I’ve done this year.
I’m not sure that you could tell by looking at me. My physical appearance hasn’t changed much this year; I’m still wearing my short skirts and long earrings; my hair has a few more white strands, perhaps, but it’s still short and sharp.
Could you tell by talking to me? Perhaps. Perhaps I seem more confident, or more opinionated. Perhaps I seem quieter. Perhaps you would notice that I wasn’t talking to you so much as I used to. I’ve become better at respecting my own need for solitude. I’m learning the rituals of small talk, but at the same time I’m learning how to escape it.
And perhaps I haven’t really changed at all; I’ve just become more myself. I find myself having a much clearer idea of what I want from life these days; I find myself beginning to make choices based on my own inclinations rather than by picking some externally decided virtue (‘the cheapest’… ‘the most ethical’… ‘the one I haven’t tried, because I am Meant to be trying new things’… of course, sometimes I remember that I am Meant to be Doing What I Feel Like and then come unstuck, but it’s all practice). I’ve been enjoying myself. I designated this year a year of fun, and I have had fun. I find myself making my own plans and acting on them. I find myself recognising my low days as atypical and remembering that my depression does not define me.
I feel less awkward. I feel less apologetic. I feel braver.
I’ve grown up. I like it.