Monday I went to lunch with an old LDS friend, someone I’d known back in the days when most of my time was spent corralling toddlers and keeping house. Because she was on her way to Italy and I just returned, we planned to discuss travel. But instead we talked mostly about change. I wondered if she would recognize the now-me, and how different I would seem from the Jana of twenty years ago.
She said I was still the same person, but suggested that maybe my years spent as a mother-of-young children and as a dutiful-Mormon-wife were more of an aberration from the “real me” than is my life now. So I’ve been thinking a lot about that since we met and I’m not sure. I think I have changed in some pretty fundamental ways–that was the major insight that I had while ruminating on my life at Cape Cod last year and that feeling has persisted since then.
Just like I look back on the essays that I wrote when I was a college freshman or even the blogposts that I wrote a few years and cringe a bit at my naivete, I do the same when I reflect on some of the decisions that I made in the past. I don’t have any regrets, per se. But my lens is not the same as it was before, and that change means that I make decisions differently and hold other priorities than I used to. It feels right to see an evolution of behavior and choices in myself, instead of stagnation.
But perhaps the biggest change in me is that I used to be afraid of change. And I’m not so much anymore. Maybe it’s just a phase that I’m going through and eventually I will find a familiar path and will no longer want to deviate from it. But for now, I’m enjoying the exploration and the traveling. It feels right to be trying new things, even uncomfortable ones. And it’s a liberating feeling to not be constantly measuring myself against the expectations of a church, a community, or a relationship that doesn’t fit my values. In general I feel more present and alive to my experiences and possibilities than ever before, which seems right to me at this mid-stage of my life.