This weekend I had the great honor of being a bridesmaid in my third wedding (yeah, I have pretty grown-up friends) and discovered something rather interesting. While weddings have always tug at my heartstrings and cause some serious introspection, this wedding triggered something deeper than usual, creating some tenth level kind of boo-hooing. What’s wrong with me? I wondered. Why am I feeling so…raw? It wasn’t like me to feel so sad and out of place and vulnerable when with my closest girlfriends. Was I just finally feeling the tug of potential old maid-dom, worried I was missing out, that despite all my cynicism all I really needed is love?
Turns out what I needed, missed, wanted, craved, and essentially mourned…was me. Spending time with my college friends, reminiscing about old times, celebrating new life-changing adventures made me think about who I was and who I thought I would be by 25 and made me yearn for former me. The girl who was full of optimism, laughter, self-confidence and constantly ready for a new adventure. Now I was full of doubt, self-condemnation, low self-worth and an almost paralyzing fear of the unknown. And the fact that I sense myself changing into this person, almost against my will made me even more frustrated and upset. So I decided to do what I usually do in situations that the cause me deep distress-I decided to write. Not just write about it in a vent session sort of way but to write to that girl that I miss and want to be again, to appeal to her, writer to writer, to come back.
So current Noelle. I know it’s been a rough few years and I know that secretly, despite all your prayer and self-reflection you believe it won’t change. I also know that you try and pretend that what has happened hasn’t really changed you and that the past is the past and that you have no right to mourn it because it could always be so much worst. Although this is true, that does not make your experience or pain any less significant. I am officially giving you permission to mourn, to be mad about it, to have a five-year-old temper tantrum if you must. Being strong doesn’t mean pretending you don’t have feelings, and the longer you try to the bury them, the longer it will take for things to truly change.
If you’re done stomping like a child now, let’s get to the real, grown up stuff. Past Noelle, I, current Noelle, have not been kind to you. I have not supported and nurtured you as I should. I am always full of criticism, a laundry list of how to “do it better”. Despite my ability to recognize and accept imperfection in others around me, I have expected nothing less than perfect from you, and in the process, I have hurt your spirit, prevented your ability to shine. It may take a while, but I promise to try to accept you, flaws and all, and allow you to make mistakes without accusing you of being a terrible person.
I have also called you many mean and hurtful names over the years. I have called you fat, stupid, selfish, gross, bitchy, obnoxious, worthless, a waste of space. I said these things in an effort to motivate you to be something more, better. But all I have done is make you feel discouraged, hurt you, make you feel unworthy for any and all things good that come your way. For this, I am truly sorry. You are smart, beautiful, kind with a huge heart and even though you may have your selfish moments, you’re allowed and you do a lot for those you care about. You are hilarious and creative, and one day you’ll make your mark on the world.
If you accept my apology, I must also ask for not only your forgiveness but your commitment to making a change. I need your optimism to help be get through the rough patches, your laughter to make smile, your bubbling confidence that allowed you to go through life with your head up high and your willingness to embrace every challenge with an open mind. I need you to be patient with me, to show me the same kindness you have shown others, and to know that even when I’m mean or hurtful, it’s just because I’m afraid and confused. Know that without you I’m not really me, and that even though I don’t have it all figured out, I do know that I don’t want to lose you, that in a few years time I don’t want to be something I don’t like or recognize. My cynicism and realism have their place, but I do not want negativity to consume and destroy us. I feel that with someone as wonderful as you, I can grow positively, progressing in the direction that you always wanted.
I hope that my plea to you works because Noelle 2.0 needs a complete overhaul. 2.1 upgrade pending.