“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?
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?
A couple nights ago, on her talk show, Chelsea Handler stated “as soon as New Year’s Resolutions are made they will most likely be broken.” For the past 9 years I have believed the same thing and have refused to make any plans come the new year. It’s not that I don’t agree with the concept of the NYR, it’s just I have rarely seen this time period as one for “reinvention” of who I am v. who I want to be.
Back when I was in high school I used the summer time to get fit, maybe get a tan (which rarely happened), and acquire a whole new wardrobe. It seemed that I always had this plan to get to who I wanted to be. Come September, I felt ready to debut the “new” me to my friends.
I participated in extracurricular activities, some that I actually enjoyed and others that were meant to look good on a college application. Everything was done to construct this persona. Now don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t popular. I wasn’t “the brain,” or the girl with purple hair. It was never about being those people, I knew my capabilities.
To some extent I clung to crafting an image my freshman year at uni. That year I had this instructor who was smart, stylish, funny…basically everything I aspired to be (when I reached her age). Yet, my attempts to reach that goal were failing. I was suffering from the symptoms of hypothyroidism and PCOS (and that didn’t get diagnosed until two years later), so I just gave up.
Slowly, over the past few years I’ve started taking time to figure out who it is I want to be. It’s a fluid idea and timing is everything. I am at a turning point, the end of an age. I am on the brink of a new beginning, why not take a chance and maybe “reinvent” myself again?