“Sorry I haven’t been myself.”
I found I kept saying this over and over again the past year as an apology for being quieter than usual, for turning down invitations or offers, for moving slower, for being distracted, for needing quiet.
For not being the “me” the person on the other end was used to or expected, whether in my personal or professional or online life.
But I think I was wrong.
I have been myself. I’ve been the versions of myself as necessitated by what life threw at me, by how my needs changed, by how my wants changed.
Like most people, I don’t share every bit of my life online. I share some of my story, but a lot of my story is interwoven with the other people’s stories, so I respect their privacy. I respect my own, too. Not every slice of me is for public consumption.
It was just easier to use “I haven’t been myself” as an excuse to not open up, explain the details, and then have to deal with the other person’s reaction to the stimuli that I had been responding to in a way that made me seem unlike myself to that person.
(I also loathe receiving pity, and some of the things I dealt with this year would knee-jerk people into that flavor of response because they are lovely, kind people who’d feel bad about anything unfortunate happening to someone they care about. I know, I know. I’m working on that.)
I’m not going to explain it all here, but—like everyone else who happens to have been born a human being—I’ve had some things to deal with over the past year (not all bad, not all good). Losses, new ideas, speed bumps, health issues, surprises, Aha! moments, frustrations, changes of mind and heart and perspective and priority. I shouldn’t have to apologize for being a person who changes over time, who responds to her environment in ways that may surprise others.
I have and will let people’s expectations down. It happens. It isn’t intentional. Expectations feel like a room full of staircases built by people who never consulted one another before building them for me: no matter how hard I try to climb them all, I’m bound to miss a step. I’m bound to trip over an unexpected rise. There’s no way I’m not going to tumble down entire flights similar to others I’ve successfully navigated before.
I have and will surprise people by being something different than they expected of me. Don’t judge a book by its cover, and all that jazz. I don’t put the entire fault on those who misjudged me, for sometimes I keep my book cover held closed pretty tight. (I know, I know. I’m working on that.)
Change isn’t always loud.
I’m done with some things that I simply have no more patience for or tolerance of. I’ve reprioritized how I want to spend my time (seriously: do you know how freeing it is to understand that you do not have to reply to every single email you receive? DELETE DELETE DELETE). I’m remembering that I need to wear the oxygen mask first, but trying not to be angry at the people around me who refuse to wear their own. I’m trying to be brave enough to do what I need to do, even though I know I could be comfortably successful doing what I already know what I’m good at doing (so even when I’m quiet, please know there’s a lot of back-and-forth shouting going on in my head right now).
It has been said that we have a whole new body every seven years. My mind and heart are big parts of my body, so it’s no shocker, really, that they have changed. It’s my sixth time around at the seven-year newness. There were bound to be some repercussions.
Or maybe that’s all gobbledygook ballyhoo and I just am who I am: a woman who has the right to change her damn mind and heart whenever it’s time to do so.
I guess what I’m saying is that I’m done apologizing with the excuse that I’m sorry I haven’t been “myself.” Because I have been myself, I’ve just not wanted to get into the details of why it’s not the version you expected at a particular moment in time.
I’m sharing this now because I have a feeling that I’m not the only one who has been doing this, and I want to give you permission to stop apologizing, too.
Change is okay.
Change of mind, heart, priority. Opinions. Needs. Wants.
Your voice is always your voice, no matter what it’s saying.
(I am writing that down to remind myself of that, too. I remember things better when I read them.)
If I have reached out to you to explain myself and you didn’t feel like I was giving you the whole story when I said, “I haven’t been myself,” you were right. I am sorry for making you feel you don’t deserve the long story—most of you do, actually. (I’ve been told that sometimes people have no idea how important they are to me. I know, I know. I’m working on it.) But I need to not get into the whole story more than you need to hear it. The excuse I gave you was my way of saying that I’m only human.
And I think I’m done apologizing for that now.