Letting go of the past version of you
Last month I received an Instagram message from an old friend and colleague. I can’t remember his exact wording because I deleted it, but it was something along the lines of “what happened to the old Jess who used to be so much fun? Your Instagram feed is so boring and just like everyone else’s.”
I wasn’t really sure how to reply. Part of me wanted to say “if you don’t like what you see you’re welcome to unfollow me.” The other part of me wanted to tell him how hurtful I found his message, because the truth was, I did.
Working as a solopreneur and putting yourself and your message out there on a daily basis is hard.
We often don’t know if what we’re doing has any impact. Sometimes we have no idea if what we are saying is helping people in any way. And yet we continue to do it. So when we receive messages that feel like a criticism of our efforts, yes, of course it hurts.
Sure, “haters be haters” and all that. But it’s not that easy to laugh off.
Especially when we realise that the reason it stings is that there’s a part of us that believes them.
When things become emotional triggers for us, often times it’s because that person has hit a nerve that already feels painful to us in some way. Maybe we’ve started to have doubts. Or perhaps we’ve been feeling the gape of the wound for a long time.
And the truth is, he hit a nerve because I hadbeen feeling that way for a long while. Bored. And with that, boring.
For an Enneagram Type 7, this is like suicide.
I had been questioning the life I have chosen and wondering what happened to my old one. The one filled with adventure and spontaneity, laughter and travel.
And in all that wondering, I had allowed myself to decide that this one isn’t enough. This chapter isn’t as fun/exciting/flexible/wild as the one that came before. And therefore not enough.
But here’s the thing.
When you start becoming self aware, things have tochange. It’s simply not possible to open yourself up to a realization around your patterns, and then not do something with it. You can’t carry on living on autopilot. You can’t carry on in the same way.
And this is what I realised.
Yes, I used to be fun. I used to be adventurous. I was frequently out socializing and I never kept still for a second.
But what I’ve come to see is that failing to keep still can also be about avoidance.
When you make a joke out of everything, you never have to be serious. When you’re always traveling, you never have to settle. When your entire life is an adventure to be planned, you never have to be present in the now.
And you never learn the lesson of stillness. Of being okay in the now. Whatever that now may bring.
As an Enneagram 7, this is my lesson.
I haven’t cracked it yet. My old patterns mean I still seek avoidance of what can feel like a quiet (and therefore mediocre) life. I still crave a future distracted by adventure and fun. I’m still quick to dismiss stillness as boredom.
But I also know that finding fun isn’t the answer to what I’m feeling. Seeking adventure as a way to avoid pain would just be about falling back into unwanted habits.
Maybe it was the answer to what my friend was wanting of me, but not to what Iwas feeling or needing.
And this is perhaps the hardest part of embracing change: others may not like it.
I’ve been accused of being a party-pooper for leaving too early.
I’ve been accused of being too intense for wanting conversations with depth.
I’ve been accused of changing too much because I’m not the person they remember.
And I’m not the person they remember.
I know a lot of them miss the old version of me. I do too.
But I also know that I’ve changed. And forcing myself to live into an old role would only be to try and meet an old expectation people have of me. The clown who made them laugh. The wingman who always said yes.
Now I want different things.
I want my journey to move me out of the box that previously defined me. I want to let go of the role I was playing. I want to meet the person who is there beneath all that.
And I want to learn to love her, whether she is fun or not.
What about you?
If you’d like to reflect on your own personal journey, here are some prompts that may help you:
- What aspects of your personality are no longer serving you?
- Where in your life have you moved on but are still be finding it hard to let go?
- What roles have you been associated with in your life, that no longer feel like they fit?
- What aspects of your personality have previously been so entrenched that others now expect them of you?