Who were you before they told you who to be?

Can you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be?  Danielle LaPorte

I recently caught up with an old family friend.  He’s about my age and our families spent almost every waking moment together when we were younger.  He and his brothers and sister, me and my sisters and brother.  Always together, always playing.

I was a bit nervous about seeing him after more than 25 years of no contact, but what I felt and what I learnt when I did, I will cherish forever.

As you can imagine our lives have taken different paths.  We caught up on that, and on family members.  We reminisced about long days playing in the back yard swimming pool, card games, barbeques with more people than we could keep up with.  We talked about our siblings, who they are now.  We talked about ourselves, who we are now.

It was difficult for me to see him as who he is now, and likewise for him to see me as who I was now.

You see, he knew who I was before.  Before I started to put myself second, before people started telling me who to be, what to wear.  He knew me before my heart got broken for the first time, before I was afraid of being judged, before I became small to accommodate others.  Before life got at me.  He knew who I used to be before society’s norms messed with me.  Before I conformed, learned how to be. He knew me when I was just being.

He also knows that it is these things that made me who I am today.

I knew him in this way too.

How refreshing to connect with someone who doesn’t see you how you are now, no matter what you tell them, but who see you as you used to be.  It was the reminder I needed to take a look back there myself, a look at who I was before I became what I thought I was meant to become.

I took away a promise to myself.  I am going to keep these old connections with friends who don’t know who I am now, so that I can keep that alive in both myself and in them.  I am also going to have a look back at the old me from time to time and see if any of her wants to step forward again.  I might leave the roller skates, bubble skirts and plastic sandals behind, but I’ll see what wants to come forward now.

He tells me I look like my mum. Most of my current friends never knew my mum, so hearing this is rare.  I tell him some days it’s hard to even remember her she was taken so young. But he remembers her, not just as a photo or a memory, he knows her.  He sees her living on in me.

Here’s to old friends who only know who you used to be, and can remind you of that.  Seek out these old friends and reconnect.

They help you remember who you were, before the world told you who you should be.

“Let your life be your message” Mahatma Gandhi

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