Change me today, love me tomorrow

2011-08-11 00:00

“I WILL change for you. I will be anything that you want me to be,” she begged as she fell to her knees. The rain diluted the tears on her face as he walked away without looking back.

It’s a scene from Washington Square and an embarrassing memory for many people. The concept of changing to make someone else love or admire you or to make them happier has always astounded me, but no matter where I go or who I meet, it’s a story that I keep hearing. Broken hearts battered by the belief that a person has the ability to influence how another feels about him or her. It ends the same way each time, with one party left feeling resentful.

In truth, we all have some need to please other people. We want our bosses to respect us and value our opinion, we want our parents to say that they are proud of us, we want our siblings to brag about what we do, our friends to look up to us and our lovers to believe that we are amazing.

But people are as fickle as names written in the sand, one gust of wind and they’re gone. We may pretend but we never know what we truly want. Our decisions are based on the mood that we are in, and a person’s mood is never the same. We are constantly adapting to situations, constantly absorbing new information and constantly redefining old beliefs.

Basing your entire personality on the whims of someone else is exhausting, impractical and just plain stupid because when they leave (be it by death or the door), all you are left with is a fuzzy concept of who you are.

A friend recently told me that being born is the most amazing thing that can happen to us. We have this one life, this moment where we can live and be anyone we want to be, so why do we get stuck being less than the best possible versions of ourselves and pretending to be people that we are not?

My theory is that it’s because we care too much about what other people think about us. We try too hard to make people like us, even if we mean absolutely nothing to them.

Eleven years ago, when I entered high school, I had no friends. One or two people would talk to me but not without making me the butt of their new joke to their own circle of friends. So that year I made the resolution to change. I threw out my Philip Pullmans and filled my shelves with overpriced Cosmopolitan magazines. I made a bed for myself in front of the TV and wrote down lists of the cute jock-type actors who seemed to be popular in the school corridors so that I could float around throwing their names into arb conversations: “Yoh, screw maths, one day I’m gonna screw Freddie and create my own subjects.”

I had more friends but it didn’t make me happier in the true sense, it just made others like me, most of whom I don’t even speak to anymore.

Self-help books instruct you to be more selfish and to do the things that make you happy. But it’s more than that. You need to be true to yourself. Who are you? What do you want? Where do you want to go?

Sure, we change, our priorities change and compromise is great when it’s needed, but you should never dispel the person you are, to conform to another’s perception of perfection, just to be accepted.

We should be able to love ourselves as we are.




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