“I don’t think people really change. I think they, we, can become better versions of what we are, more efficient, more impactful, hopefully less destructive. ” — William Bradley
I’ve been thinking about this quote ever since Bradley wrote up his review of the season finale of Mad Men. I suppose I’ve always been infatuated with the idea reinvention, changing into something completely different…for the better, of course. In a way it’s a sort of Frankenstein idea of the emotional and mental self, keeping things you like, getting rid of those you don’t.
I like to think that for the most part we are constantly evolving, making subtle changes not only for ourselves but for those around us. Maybe it means keeping in touch with people who really do care about you, and letting go of the people you’ve out grown. Or maybe it’s even something superficial, like remembering to put the toilet-paper on the toilet-roll holder because you know the empty cardboard drives your partner crazy.
Lately I’ve been wondering if people really are capable of change. I had a
argument discussion with a friend a few weeks ago, where she stated that she didn’t like certain aspects of her personality and was trying to change them. I kept telling her that it was a great thing and that I hoped she found what she was looking for. At the end of the day I’m not really sure what she wants to fix. I feel like maybe it was a nice thing to say at the time, but since then there hasn’t been any real effort on her part to sort of keep the ball rolling. I’ll be honest, I feel duped and find the scenario to be along the lines of her “[announcing] abruptly that [she] has evolved — instead of actually evolving.” I feel like when you’re trying to repair certain aspects of yourself or relationships that need to be mended and managed, well, you can’t really go on hiatus.
On the other hand I’m constantly confronted by the idea of people becoming to be some bizarre ideal that they hold near and dear to their hearts. In a previous entry I mentioned a roommate who used to give us hints of the beautiful person she could be, but then devolved into something selfish and superficial. Will she one day feel like she should do a 180, and find herself on the path to becoming a better person?
I’m always hopeful that people will change for the better. I hope they wake up and see the friends they have who truly care about them. It would be wonderful to have self-awareness and see how we’ve slighted people or unintentionally hurt them, and change those behaviors. It would be great if we became more caring and generous. But by fixing those elements are we actually changing? Or is Bradley right, and we’re simply becoming better versions of ourselves?
I recently lost a good friend to cancer. This wasn’t just a friend I got to know for a brief part of my life only to lose contact due to busy schedules and bullshit. It was the type of friendship where no matter how much time passed we were able to meet up and pick up where we left off. It evolved over the years but always in a positive direction. Once on an old blog I wrote about how she was the chicken soup for my soul. Yes, that’s cheesy, but it’s also true.
We all have those people in our lives where we can spend five minutes with them, and things just start to seem better. They’re the complete opposite of the psychic vampires/toxic people we sometimes find ourselves keeping company with.
There have been times I’ve found myself talking to or spending the day with people whom I’m not particularly fond of. It is pretty rare, but when it does I leave feeling drained. Most of the time there was no actual connection, because it was all about them. There was no give and take. It makes me really wish I could get those moments back.
The loss of my friend has made me reevaluate who I want in my life. I’m a pretty lucky girl, I have some really great friends out there. The ones who aren’t so great eventually disappear from my life and I don’t try to reconnect with them. I’m sick of having friends because it’s convenient for either me or them. We choose not to settle for so many things in life, why is it we sometimes settle when it comes to picking our friends?
The one’s worth keeping, well life sometimes gets in the way. When we are able to grab a moment to go to lunch, chat, or write emails, those things really do end up meaning something. It’s a constant process trying to keep in contact, letting someone know they’re important to you in some way. Why not let them know they count?
On this week’s The Jersey Shore, the roommates talk to Mike (aka The Situation) about his behavior. The main complaint is that he’s changed. He’s not the person they originally thought he was. He’s become more dickish and “in your face” about things. They miss the guy they first met. Keep in mind this was filmed in a months time–so maybe the Mike they met was a front, and this is the real deal.
This episode got me thinking about the friends who’ve pulled 180’s to the point where if I met the today I know I wouldn’t want to be friends with them. Looking back there are times when I wish I had the balls the JS crew had to confront those friends. I regret not telling them their foolish ways were off-putting.
I’ve been thinking about my former roommate, and how in our entire year of living together there were these fleeting moments where she’d let people see how amazing she was. I remember just before Christmas that year I stayed at her family’s house. We watched stupid movies, gorged on holiday treats, and danced around to crappy pop music. I know if I were to stay with her today, those things wouldn’t happen. It would be awkward.
I’ve talked to our other ex-roommates as well. Each of them noticed as time went on the vivacious person she could be, eventually disappeared. She’s been replace by something selfish, overbearing and fake. I wonder how many of us mourn the loss of who she could’ve been.
At the end of the day we hope that we get better with age. For most of us this is the case. But what about those around us who let their negative qualities take over? Do we sit by and pray that one day they’ll have an epiphany? Do we stage an “intervention” like The Shore housemates did with Mike? Is it ever too late to let a person know you miss the old them?