I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we change and grow. Sometimes, our lives turn out so far from where we thought they would, it’s hard to believe we’re physically the same person we used to be—well, okay, I’m not quite even physically the same person anymore, but you know what I mean. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, in fact, I think it’s good.
When I graduated high school, I had planned to go to college as pre-med. Instead, I graduated with degrees in Sociology and Psychology with plans for grad school and to eventually teach at a college level. Instead, I became a software engineer after having taught myself programming as a hobby. Oddly, from childhood up until about midway through senior year of high school, being a software developer was pretty much without question what I wanted to do with my life, but a computer programming class in 12th grade turned me off to it entirely. Still, here I am now being a developer.
I spent a large portion of my life as a complete music snob. My life revolved about the punk and indie underground music scene. I was either constantly going to shows, running a venue myself, doing a college radio show, being Head Music Director of my college radio station, talking about music, or simply just judging everyone I met primarily on their music tastes. My friends and social life revolved around the music scene.
Today, I could barely give a fuck about the music scene and keeping up with new music. I still have the bands I love and I do still like hearing new stuff, but I only bother with music I really love anymore and there are only a handful of bands I still go see when they’re on tour. Past Amelia would be horrified at my utter apathy regarding music, but the music scene wasn’t giving me what I needed and I burned myself out trying. I never really felt like an active part of it, even though I was. Not having any musical talent or being able to play anything myself (believe me, I tried) left me feeling as though I was simply on the sidelines, despite all the other things I did. The punk and indie music scene also talks big game when it comes to community, but the reality is that it’s mostly all talk. I wanted somewhere that made me feel like I belonged, but I got nothing but alienation from the indie underground music scene. I always thought I’d “listen to good music forever” and it would always be a huge part of my life, but all of this contributed to a withering away of my emotional connection with music.
In a surprising turn of events, I found what I was looking for in the running community. I used to hate running. Having to run the mile in gym class growing up was one of the worst things I could be asked to do. Now, I run 26.2 miles at a time for fun. It’s hard not to turn this into another post gushing over my love of running, but running not only provided me with a new love of being alone with myself and my thoughts, but it introduced me to the most supportive and amazing community I’ve ever been a part of (the trans community not excluded), not to mention the fact that it helped me be healthier and gave me something I enjoyed pushing myself in.
Past Amelia wasn’t very into sports and thought running simply for the sake of running was pretty ridiculous. She heavily looked down upon athletes as somehow being lesser people, so to be someone who now calls herself an athlete is a bold about-face.
Then, of course, there’s transitioning. While I was always extremely aware that my gender was “a thing,” I never thought I’d actually go through with transitioning. I had all kinds of reasons and excuses for not doing it. Even at 28, I never expected I’d actually be living as a woman now. And even over the last two years, my thoughts, attitudes, and understanding of being transgender have evolved a lot. I used to think genital reconstruction surgery and striving to “pass” were immutable parts of transition. These were just the things you did. Now, I don’t really even care much about either. I was always worried about what people would think of me, but it turns out I just don’t care.
Even my marriage would be shocking to Past Amelia. If I had met my wife while I was in college, or even shortly after, I likely would have hated her. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in a relationship with her. When we started dating, she checked more boxes on my deal breaker list than she did on the list of what I looked for in a partner, but we had an amazing connection. It didn’t take long before those “deal breakers” stopped mattering; some of them even turned into positives. Over time, these silly mental lists completely went out the window and my idea of “perfect partner” shifted radically towards her.
Moving beyond the more tangible things and how different my daily life is from what I expected it to be, I’m just a very different person. I used to be an arrogant bitch who regularly upset people without even realizing it. Sure, there’s always that “young and dumb” stuff and being your typical college-aged kid, but this went well beyond that. I was disgustingly egotistical and judging of others. I thought I cared for others and had empathy, but the truth is I was deluding myself. I’ve written about this specific thing a couple times now so I won’t go too much deeper into it, but I’m such a different person in this regard now that I think it goes well beyond simply growing up and maturing. I was forced to deal with things I thought I could avoid dealing forever and they changed me.
The thing is, though, this is all good. Really, really good. While we can never know how all the what ifs in our lives would have panned out, I’m really happy with how things did go and where I am. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that, if I could travel back in time and meet her, Past Amelia would straight up hate who I am and what my life is now, but that’s okay. My life is uniformly different than I expected it to be even just when I was in my mid-twenties, but it’s different in so many better ways. I grew as a person and improved myself. I replaced things I thought should make me happy with things that actually do make me happy.