When I was in high school one of my dreams was to move to Seattle, dye my hair purple, pierce my nose and eyebrow, and become a bus driver. You probably wouldn’t guess that if you met me today. As a teenager growing up in the era of grunge I was obsessed with individuality, creativity, and uniqueness.
I idolized characters in movies like “Reality Bites”, “Empire Records”, and “Singles”.
I wanted to be Leilana trying to figure out her life while ignoring her feelings for Troy or Janet pining over Cliff while also starting to find her own self-worth or most importantly Cory realizing Rex Manning is not so sexy and that she really loves AJ, although I was actually crushing on Mark.
It’s interesting how our dreams and priorities shift. Bus driver is not on my list of career choices right now. As an adult that sounds terrifying but as a teenager I romanticized the idea as a way to meet cool people and drive around the best city in the world all day. When you’re younger it’s easy to ignore reality especially if your parents are trying to tell you about those realities because as a teenager the last thing you want to do is listen to your parents.
I would tell my mom I could do whatever I wanted even if I did have piercings and purple hair. People shouldn’t judge me on my appearance……then I started working and realized yes, the world is going to judge on appearance. I still don’t think it should be that way and the world is more accepting but the reality is in certain professions extreme hair colors, piercings, and tattoos are not going to be accepted.
When I reflect on the past I feel like some part of me has betrayed the 16-year-old version of myself. Yesterday as I was doing the dishes after dinner I had some thoughts and wrote them down:
“I sometimes feel like a contradiction because I want to be unique but I also want to be normal. Growing up, be the free spirit and the responsible adult. Stability.”
I think I’ve always felt the contradiction between what I perceived as unique and normal. I wore crazy clothes but was a cheerleader. I played softball but also did musical theater. After being a bus driver my other dream was to play softball in college and become a prison psychologist.
I’ve kind of always struggled with feeling like I had to make a choice between creative and conservative, like they were two separate paths that never merged. I either had to be responsible or a free spirit.
I think I’ve finally found a place where I have a bit of both.
I still want to dye my hair purple but I also want to get a job (so I’m thinking a really dark can’t tell if it’s really purple color). My style is more conservative but I mix it up with unique pieces. I still want to live in Seattle but I realize I might not be living right in the middle of the city. My life is not filled with crazy, movie-style shenanigans and romances but it is filled with great moments and great friends.
Becoming an adult can sometimes feel like you’re losing a part of yourself but I’m starting to realize I’m still me. I’m finally coming to accept that changing up my style or pursuing new dreams is not betraying my former self because she’s still there just a bit more toned down.
I’m learning to accept all the parts of me, the free spirit and the conservative, although I am going to let go of the bus driver part 😉