Are you the same girl you used to be?

In our discussion the other day about whether our childhood dreams survived the journey to motherhood, I made a few references to my “old self.” You know, the one who wanted to be a Solid Gold dancer AND a novelist AND an elementary-school teacher.

I loved what Kate said in her comment: “I don’t feel like there was an ‘old self’ versus me now. It just is my journey through life, and I’m enjoying the ride.”

I’ve been thinking about that for the last couple of days, trying to decide if it feels true for me. In some ways yes, in some no. I actually identify very strongly with the girl I was in elementary school -a dreamer, a reader, a thinker. I was kind, and didn’t mind being different. I feel more distant from my teenage self – I had become sharper and meaner, lost interest in some of the things that had once meant so much to me and became single-minded in my quest for fun, fun, fun.

I know self-involvement is fairly typical for teens, but I feel like I really went off track in those years and often just didn’t feel comfortable , happy, or like I was the person I was supposed to be. Motherhood actually helped me rediscover what feels like my truer, better self, the one that had gotten buried under self-consciousness, insecurity and frivolous self-indulgence in my teen years.

I know I am that same girl, and that all those feelings and tendencies are still in me somewhere, tempered by time and maturity and growth. But sometimes, that careless, aimless 16-year-old girl sure seems more like a distant cousin than my very own self.

What do you think? Do you feel like the same girl you were at 8, 18…or 28? Has motherhood changed you for the better, putting you in touch with sides of you that had gone unexplored or strengthening traits like patience and selflessness? Or have you gotten lost along the way, and now feel distant from the person you believe you could be?

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