I’ve been reading a few blog posts about people reflecting about their former selves and how we change (or don’t change). While there is no monumental birthday to prompt this, I thought I would reflect on myself!
Let’s go back to age 24 (I am now 38). I always say age 24 was pretty awesome. I was living by myself for the first time in a 400-square foot apartment near downtown Phoenix, had just scored the medical writing job of my dreams and met Justin.
A lot has changed since then. Some maybe for the better. Some maybe for the worse. And some I have no opinion.
Then: I used to be extremely type A. I rose early in the morning to get my workout in before starting work at 7am. I had to plan out everything with meticulous detail. I had been doing this for years! When I was 22, I shared a house and one car with five other people. I couldn’t deal with being late for anything, so I rode my bike to and from work so I wouldn’t have to share the car! (To be fair, my housemates were not late that often; it was mostly in my head. And they certainly helped me to relax on that note).
Now: While I am still very organized and much more of a planner compared with Justin, I have relaxed tremendously. I like myself much better. I don’t fret much and I go with the flow. Besides the influence of my nonchalant husband, I truly believe long-distance hiking was the catalyst for change. If you can’t be flexible on the trail, then you will never enjoy yourself. Oh, and this is a two-fold change because I no longer get up at 4:45am on a daily basis. Thank God.
Then: I used to be a runner. Right around my 24th birthday, I completed my first half marathon and had a second scheduled for later in the year. I always had a 5K waiting in the books. Running was my primary form of exercise until we hit the trail in 2011.
Now: When we returned from the Appalachian Trail, I tried running. And I hated it. Every minute of it. I’m not saying running was ever easy for me, but it was terribly difficult post trail. Plus, I no longer enjoyed myself and would much rather walk on a trail for exercise, at least for now. I still have dreams of completing my bucket list item of doing a triathlon, which would involve running, but I’m not holding my breath.
Verdict: Not sure.
Then: I used to be an avid volunteer. At age 24, I was fresh off a year as a full-time volunteer and still very much immersed in that community. I volunteered at my church (youth group leader, catechism teacher, pretty much anything and everything they needed) and for various nonprofit agencies in Phoenix. I would say beside work, most of my time was spent in some sort of volunteer role.
Now: I still enjoy volunteering and tried to keep it up over the years. In New Hampshire, I was J’s number one volunteer for his parks and recreation department and I volunteered at the local soup kitchen. When we ran Bear Den Trail Center and Hostel on the Appalachian Trail, J was the only one paid. I dedicated anywhere from 15-25 hours/month doing whatever at Bears Den, plus we fostered kitties. But the more nomadic we become, the harder it is to commit to something. And, we often live in extremely remote places; there aren’t too many options when you have nothing around you. J and I are constantly picking up garbage on trails we hike, so there’s something. I also like to think the 3 cats I brought inside here at Fenton Ranch is my good samaritan duty.
Verdict: Worse, but I am sure volunteering will always be a part of my life and I’ll get back into it someday when we live in a place where there is civilization.
Then: I used to dream about being a writer. When I was 12 years old, I called my local newspaper and begged the editor to give me an assignment. If there was any certainty in my adolescent years, it was that I was a lover of the written word and I knew someday I would be a real writer. At 24, I had finally landed a paying job as a writer. While that was incredible, I knew I wanted a little more. I knew I wanted to write on a freelance basis and not be tied to one job, be published in a magazine and someday write a book.
Now and Verdict: Dreams do come true with persistence and patience.