There's been so many moments in life, both good and bad, that have a hand at shaping us into the person we are today. When looking back at our lives as a whole, it can be hard to pinpoint exact instances where we've changed immensely or grown as people- often these are gradual changes that sneak up on us over time. It's only when we take a huge step back and really think about it, are we able to see all these sequences of events as separate pieces. And sure, hundreds of different events play a part in bringing us into the present, but when you really break it down, there are definitely moments that stand out more than others.
So with that said -
Looking at all of the life you've lived so far, can you pinpoint one time frame or instance that you feel truly contributed to your growth as a person? This may be a turning point, a positive or negative experience, a moment or collection of moments that stand out in your mind...something that changed you as a whole.
I'd always been someone who dated a lot, and throughout high school and college I had my fair share of boyfriends, although nothing terribly serious...until I met this one particular guy my sophomore year of college. I met him at the shop I worked at and I felt an immediate attraction- I thought he was so handsome, funny, and unlike most guys I had been interested in before. Up until that point you could say that I always dated "my type" - starting way back in junior high I usually found myself hanging out and dating boys who skateboarded, played music, and if they were into sports they weren't what my friends and I un-apologetically labeled as "meatheads." This guy though was a far-cry from any of the skater boys I grew up with, the opposite of my friends in bands, and so incredibly different from most of the guys I spent my time with. I wasn't even sure why I liked him. But I did.
As time went on we started to hang out more; we'd joke around throughout our shifts at work, stay a little bit later helping each other straighten up the shelves, talk about our separate plans for the weekend. Then one day he asked me out on a date. I of course said yes, and the next couple of days went by in a blur as I found myself being swept away in excitement.
He picked me up on a Thursday night and I was greeted with a rose on the passenger seat when I got in the car. Back then I was blown away- none of my previous dates had shown this level of chivalry outside of the corsages at school dances their mothers had thoughtfully ordered. We headed out to eat Indian food, which I'd never had before. Conversation was light, easy. Afterward we went to get frozen yogurt (my favorite), and I'll never forget him watching me finish my cup of yogurt (my very small cup, mind you), and saying to me, "my god, you don't have to scrape out every last bit!" as I scooped up the last couple of vanilla flavored spoonfuls. And he wasn't joking. In my happiness with the evening I let this strange comment kind of drift away with a smile, and as he dropped me off at my house I floated inside, eager to share the details of the night with my girlfriends.
So yeah, it was a great night, minus the weird comment. And as time went on, we became a couple. And the rose on the front seat? That was only the start. This guy pulled out all the stops. Fancy dinners, weekends away, little gifts. I'd never, ever dated anyone who treated me this way...and I liked it. But soon comments like the one that night at the frozen yogurt shop started happening more regularly. Just little things, here and there, but they added up. We were so different, so I always made excuses for his odd remarks and sometimes unpredictable behavior.
As time went on we began to argue, he would yell, get very angry, and eventually we totally stopped getting along. In retrospect I can see parts of myself slowly start to change to suit him. I see myself backing down from arguing with him, starting to lose interest in the things I used to love. I don't really know how it happened- it's part embarrassing, part weird, part really surprising...but I let myself change because that's what I thought my boyfriend wanted. I'd never done that before; in the past I'd always been a super-independent girl. I knew what I wanted and knew who I was. But somehow I'd let this guy into my head in the most negative way, and when we broke up a few months later for good, I didn't feel sad- I felt surprisingly free.
It's still a mystery to me how I let that happen. Luckily I only spent a few months with that jerk, and I suppose it was a blessing in disguise, because that winter taught me exactly what I shouldn't be doing. And then of course exactly what I should be doing, too.
For those months spent with someone I allowed myself to change for- for that time I gave up as I pretty much morphed into some weakened version of myself, I'm grateful. I truly look at that relationship as a turning point in my life. It really showed me who I was, and I think I had to lose myself somewhere along the way to really find myself. Sure, certain things will always remind me of this bizarre time in my life- there are particular country songs that still give me the creeps, and every so often Autumn, Shirley and I will get a laugh quoting whats-his-name while eating frozen yogurt- but the best lingering memories from all of it are the life lessons I learned.
For a long time I felt foolish about letting that happen. I was perplexed at how me, Ms. Outgoing-Life-of-the-Party could ever allow some guy to change who I was. But now I just chalk it up to another one of those "growing up" experiences, and certainly an experience who shaped me into the girl I am today. And later on, this newly re-self-assured girl would date a whole bunch of great guys who treated me just how I deserved to be treated...and then one special guy in particular who would eventually become my husband. I loved myself, and allowed myself to be loved. A pretty awesome ending if I do say so myself.
----------I'm moving back to having you guys link up in the comments - I did love using inlinkz, but realized that if I was to re-format my blog I'd lose all of your links! So instead, just go ahead and post your link in the comments, along with a little excerpt from your journaling! Can't wait to read them. :)