An Apology to My Past Self

Story By: Hannah Lanier, News Editor

Thank you for the lessons.
After years of seeking approval from a significant other, family and friends, I am finally eager to please myself again.
For the past several years, I became a person I was most afraid of–an empty shell of my previous self. I was still me in several aspects, but nowhere near the same fiery, independent person I loved.
I went from being the sculptor that carved the marble to the marble waiting to be carved.
Somewhere in the midst of a serious relationship, embarking on adulthood and failed attempts to remain myself, I got lost.
I stopped participating in things that brought me joy, and my minimal attempts were motivated by others. To make them proud.
I was living vicariously through the image that I built of myself.
Suddenly, I was one person for my high school boyfriend. Another for my mother. One for my father. My siblings. My “friends.”
Only to come home to look in the mirror to see emptiness.
I was giving so much of myself to the people in my life and leaving nothing for myself.
The boyfriend needed me to be perfect, not a problem to be solved.
Mom needed me to be an illustration worthy of bragging about on social media.
Dad needed me to accomplish everything on his terms–to be proud according to his definition.
Siblings needed me to be funny and lighthearted, because my issues were too overbearing.
Friends were nothing more than classmates and a list of favors to be granted.
Damn, that sucked.
Not the people in my life, because I don’t blame them.
I blame me. That’s not a sad cry for help.
Everyone in my life was using me as a bank, each interaction costing more than the previous. Yet it’s my fault. I gave everyone access to my account.
It took heartbreak to shake me back to reality. I began to build boundaries, finally.
Now, I refuse to seek anyone’s approval outside of my own.
I am on my way back.
Back to the version of me that was unapologetically powerful and abundantly happy.
Like 16-year-old me: A force to be reckoned with.
I miss her, but I don’t necessarily want her back in her entirety. Maybe her confidence, determination.
Rather I wish to grow into this current version of myself. Using the betrayal and discouragements as fuel to help me become the most authentic version of myself—the best version of myself.
I owe nothing to anyone. I owe everything to myself.
This is for the boundaries. I’ll set them in stone.
Whether you’re a yes man and a doormat, or a person that constantly disregards your problems because they appear minuscule to others.
Start acknowledging that your feelings are valid regardless of the measurement to others.
Start saying no even if people don’t like it, especially then.
It has taken me the loss of loved ones, verbal and emotional abuse, and self-inflicted hate to begin to recognize my needs.
Because what I need is essential to my mental and physical being, and I dare another person to come into my life as a threat to any of these boundaries that I’ve so carefully built.
I will not regret the defining moments of my life, no matter how difficult they were. Instead, be thankful for the lessons that I learned, and hope that those lessons can someday help others.