A few months ago, I stood before a group of children and talked about my career. It was career day and I was starting over. At this point, I had left my corporate job and I was somewhere in the middle of being a freelance writer and developing the website that you are currently on with the same hopes and ambition that I have always had for Unfiltrd.
“I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. I just said whatever made the person I was talking to feel good,” I projected across the classroom with their little heads turning to the side in confusion and curiosity..
It was brutally honest. Doctor? Sure. Lawyer? Sure. Insurance Agent? Sure. Teacher? Of course I want to inspire the young impressionable minds of children for 8 hours a day for minimal pay and little reward only to be fired and rehired every summer because of funding in the public school system. Of ‘freakin’ course. ‘
“I, however, always knew who I wanted to be.”
That part was true. I’d collected data from every adult who brushed past me ever since I was a little girl – wide eyed and full of hope – and held tight to the vision of who I wanted to be.
I’d be a woman who was 100% woman and not ashamed of it. I’d stand proud with perfume on her shoulder, a lace skirt that showed off her curves, and confidence in her beliefs. I’d be proud of her body and what it is capable of versus letting any particular scale ruin my day. The woman I’d become would have a full head of grey hair – since I’d learned through my mother’s many coloring appointments that we grey’d early in my family.
I’d be an active and engaged citizen. My voice was important as any other and I’d take up my rightful space in this world.
I’d forgive. I grew up around way too many people holding on to the hurt from way too many decades ago to hold on to any more pain. I’d live completely – attempting my best to live the width and the length of life.
I’d be someone who wore lots of kimonos, bright colors, had fun glasses, and burned lots of expensive candles. I’d be a woman who held long dinner parties where we drank too much wine and ate too much food. The people in attendance would be people that I actually liked versus the ones I ‘should’ invite because of reasons A, B, or C.
I’d have lots of pets because my love spread beyond humans and if I was honest, I’d always loved four legged friends a little bit more. They were easier to understand and didn’t hold back their love. I’d surround myself in love.
Future me would be a woman of action, deeply involved in the community around her. She’d have the stories of her youth and the presence of her prime. I loved future me.
The only problem was that I up until a few months before, I wasn’t anywhere close to becoming this person. I was in a job, a relationship, and a wardrobe that wasn’t for me. I didn’t necessarily have a plan for how I’d become her. I thought that I’d become her after decades of being someone else. The age would come and I’d retire from the life that I was living to finally be free.
Spoiler Alert: This isn’t how this happens. You don’t get to be one person for 59 years and then suddenly shift.
In my twenties, I was living a life were my closet was split in three: who I was, who I wanted to be, and the exhausted girl that found herself in the middle (aka sweatpants). Every garment was 100% situational. I mean, who didn’t need riding pants for that day their boyfriend took them to a ranch? (Probably the girl who was single and would have to lead an intense google search to even find a horse ranch in a major city.)
I struggled with the balance of fake friends and cautious conversations. Were they mad at me? Should I not have said that? What did I need to do to get this person back in my good graces?
I didn’t love who I was. I was a completely different person at the office than at home. I was different with my friends than with my family. I was giving all of what was left to a relationship where the ROI was even more depletion. I wanted to be one person but I switched between the roles of Kris, KK, Krissy, Kristian and Ms. Gist. It was at this pivotal moment when I realized that if you are living a life you aren’t proud of, you have two options:
Option 1: I could stay exactly the same and continue to play these roles. I could take home the Oscar for them – along with that dress that would be perfect if I was ever invited to an awards show.
Option 2: Or I could say, ‘fuck it,’ and listen to the distant advice of future me who always knew what she wanted and needed the courage to start over and simply be.
The person who I wanted to be loved me for who I was currently. She knew the temptation involved living any life. She forgave me. In therapy one day, I rambled (read: 45 minutes of word vomit with a full serving of pacing back and forth) about how I was living a life where I felt pulled in a million different directions that were never what I wanted it and were certainly not putting me on track to the person that I wanted to be. His response was simple, “What advice did future me have for current me?”
Go to yoga. You need to be able to bend without breaking. Go to therapy. We’re not taking that trauma any further forward. Confront that person head on because being passive aggressive and ignoring the situation never works. Stop calling that person who won’t answer. They don’t care. Give. You will never be without.
From that point forward, every decision that I made was wired towards my soul’s intent versus the ‘woulds’, ‘shoulds’, and ‘cannot’s’ of others. I would not be multiple people. You get what you get. I would please myself. I would not try to please you but if you took pleasure, so be it.
I quieted the fear in my head.
Yes, I would fail but I would learn from every misstep.
Yes, I should want a promotion but I want to be someone who wakes up everyday going to a job that they love versus the one that pays the most money and gives them the most power.
No, I can’t love without getting hurt but I can get hurt without ever loving. Self-preservation is not protection.
Most importantly, the distant me of the future told me to love, love, and love again because I am 100% capable of it. In meditation, which usually just meant walking without headphones down a quieter street on my way to yoga while taking in my surroundings, I imagined future me loving present me through everything I was currently suffering. With every breath, I focused on who I was and abandoned the projections of the life made for me by temptation. I wanted to be someone of character and staying true to the kind of person I wanted to be builds that character.
Now, I sit here, not quite all the way there but most certainly on my way and with a lot more grey hair. There are no more closets that are split, no friendships that are fake, and only the most sure and stable love resides inside of me.
I am unfinished. Becoming always is. There is no final destination to be reached. Becoming the person you want to be is full of challenges, obstacles, and a bit of growing tired of your own bullshit. The job is never done.
If I could tell those kids anything today, it’d be that the future you will love you through all of it just as I love who I was yesterday even through her missteps and frustrations. You are worth the time and the energy necessary to become whoever you’ve always dreamt of being. The only person you must make proud and that you can not lie to is the little kid who is still looking up at you, eyes wide and full of hope, waiting for you to finally bloom. You can change your career a million times but if you ever change who you are or who you’re becoming, make it worth it.