30 Years to Know Me

The funny thing about getting older is it's almost always a catalyst for reflection. I don't know if it's because I finally hit the big 30- honestly an age I wasn't even sure I'd make it to at one point- or if I'm just feeling particularly introspective at the moment, but for whatever reason I sat down on my break at work a few weeks ago and just started trying to figure out who I am. Now don't read that and think "Uh-oh is AJ about to pack in her job and go all "Eat, Pray, Love" on us?" I can promise you that while I would love to spend my days communing with nature, and smoking weed I have no plans to in the near future. But I do want, for lack of a better phrase, "to find myself". 

I'm not sitting here telling you that I don't know what I enjoy, or what I think about the world but I am saying that I don't know who the complete me is. I know parts of me, almost as if my soul is fragmented and spread across time and I've only collected some of the parts-maybe that's what life is though-maybe it's not just me, and we are all travelling through time collecting pieces of our soul and when we catch them all we're done. Achievement unlocked-off to the afterlife with you! 
I know that my views and politics make up a big part of me, these are the foundations of the "real" me. I am my politics, I am a feminist, I am living with chronic pain, I do like big butts and I cannot lie about it! Okay that last one was a joke but you get me. All of these are things that I can confidently state I am. These are things you would know about me just by reading this blog, or following me on social media. But the foundations of a person aren't the things that make them unique. The little things that swirl around a persons brain, that chop and change over time, the things that are fleeting and they may not even notice themselves, these are the important things. 
Like the songs that make a smile involuntarily spread across my face, or the books that stop my tears in their tracks, or the movies that quiet the noise in my head, these are the things that matter to me.
There was a moment when for the 9 millionth time I was asked "So what kind of music do you like?" and I once again answered with "oh a bit of everything really" that I realised that whilst I do love many many different genres of music, movies, books etc my answers were vague because my personality was vague. There was no clarity, no precision, no completeness. 

How many of you have "tried on" a 100 different personas over the years? I know I have! I was the prim & proper schoolgirl, the loner, the bad-girl, the stoner, the slut, the emo (before emo was a word), the stripper, the "cool girl", the "I'm not a girl's girl" girl, the party girl, the I don't give a damn girl, and so many, many more different girls. Over the years I let everything from friends and boys, fun and money, confidence and low self esteem to shape who I apparently was. But sitting here now, being completely honest with myself, I'd say each persona only had about 10% of the real me in there-and that's really not okay! How are we ever supposed to know who we are, and what we want from life if we are showing the world a different face at every turn? 

I can't tell you why I felt the need to change suppress myself, just to fit into friendship groups, just to be loved, just to be liked. I could blame it on my anxiety, or I could admit that I was just weak and easily moulded into something new. 
For every new persona I found new friends, new hobbies, new "favourite" bands, and bars, and clothes, but through all of that I never found myself! Don't get me wrong though, I look back at those times and I remember some of the best moments of my life, I smile fondly thinking of those friends, I still smile and bop  my head when I walk to work and one of the songs from "back then" comes on. But I also look back and barely recognise the girl in those memories. 
It took me far too long, far too many years of tricking myself, diminishing myself, and changing myself, before I finally decided enough was enough. No more changing, no more learning to like things just to make other people like me, no more of not knowing me. I wanted to get to know me, so I could eventually let other people get to know me. 

4 years ago I left an unhealthy relationship that I had been in from the age of 19- I spent most of my formative years with this one man (although there was a one year break where once again I put on a different persona like it was my new favourite jeans) and it took our final break up for me to realise that I'd spent almost 7 years trying to be enough for a man that was never going to be good enough for me! I left that relationship,moved back in with my parents, and spent the next 6 months doing stupid things, and stupid people, just to clear my head. All the personalities I'd tried on over the years sat in a pile on the floor of my childhood bedroom, muddled together wondering which one I was going to put on next. I gave party girl another whirl-I made some questionable decisions under that influence, I even pulled on my total bitch persona and dated my ex's work colleague for a while! 

Then I met Damian. I don't know what it was about him, or why I felt so unconcerned in his presence, but not long after we met we all went out with friends, ended up in the casino, and the two of us sat chatting until about 5/6am. But the most important part of this night was all throughout that conversation, I told the truth. I didn't pretend to be anybody I wasn't, I didn't actively try to make this new person in my life like me. I just answered questions as honestly as I knew how, and I learned more about myself that night than I had in the years previous. 

Leaving that casino I felt lighter, almost like I'd shed this cocoon of need-the need to be loved, the need to be liked-I started to want to like myself, I wanted to love myself. I took me another 3 months to agree to date Damian btw, I really actually made sure I knew who I was bringing into this new relationship. 

Damon Hill actually says in his new book "in order to find out who I am, I first had to realise I wasn't my father..." and I think that is true of everybody (not just famous F1 drivers who followed in their father's footsteps). In order for me to know who I am, I first have to realise that I'm not the person I have been pretending to be. So of course I didn't find myself that year, I just found out who I wasn't.

So in January 2013 I started collecting the correct pieces of my soul, I started pulling myself back together. So far I've discovered that I am the girl who loves and hates the rain in equal measure. I love staying in over going out, BUT will be the first to shout "SHOTTTTTSSSS" when I do drag myself out to the bar. I'm the woman who watches Disney movies at least 3 times a week, who carries her stuffed teddy Jonjo with her whenever she has to stay away from home, and is sitting with an actual zoo of stuffed toys above her head right now. I have read Wuthering Heights over 100 times and still get confused in the middle, I buy a new copy every time they release a new cover even though I understand it's just a marketing ploy. I'm surly and unapologetic, I'm fiercely loyal, and always put my friends needs before my own. I HATE talking to people about my problems and feelings, but also maintain that counselling saved my life. I'm a creature of habit, I can be lazy, I love to run, and miss it desperately. I am proud of my intelligence and won't hide it to make anyone feel superior, I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up, I want to go back to university and do at least 3 different new degrees. I want to own a store filled with muslin, and incense, and sell Native made dream-catchers but only to people that actually understand dream catchers. I want to create a million different things, but I also just want to be calm and quiet. I hate when there are two different noise sources at the same time. I'm snappy, and soppy. I love my body and hate the way it looks. I'm care about other women but won't support them just because they are women. I'm a bisexual woman that married a man. I'm a fiercely independent woman that sometimes needs her husband to help her brush her hair. I'm complicated and messy, and i'm still learning. I'm worthy of more than life has given me in the past, and you better believe I'm out to get what I deserve. 

I was a victim but now I'm a survivor.
I was naive but now I'm experienced.
I was everybody else's to shape but now I'm in charge. 
I was somebody that nobody really knew but now I'm someone who knows herself. (So far).

I'm enjoying collecting my pieces, enjoying getting to know myself, and learning new things everyday. Oh and now when someone asks "So what kind of music do you like?" I can answer with a confident, no shame "well mostly 90s pop, early 00s emo, rocking power ballads, and anything by former Disney actresses that have discovered they are sexy as hell-shoutout to Selena, Demi, and Ariana!"

Now look I know this has been long, and some of it probably didn't even make sense, but I had to get it out of my system so sorry! If you read this far THANK YOU!! Leave a comment if you wish, you know I love them. 

22 comments

  1. Donna McCahery16 July 2017 at 17:09

    So proud of my daughter for sharing this.
    Loved it ! xx

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  2. Everyone has their own story. There are those happy days, and of course the not so happy ones. I'm glad you can now tell yourself that you are a survivor. Life can be hard sometimes so we need to be tough. Move forward and continue believing in yourself. Stay beautiful.

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  3. This was a brave post to write. Opening up is scary, doing it in a blog post is terrifying. I have a few posts that i'm too nervous to post yet so well done!

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  4. I am sorry to hear about your bad relationships, I do agree with you that our personas do change over the years. Even now I know that some people you will act with in a different way to others. You are a survivor and have been very brave to have opened up and shared your story with us x

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  5. What a brave post to publish, I did a lot of reflection and soul searching when I turned 30 too x

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  6. I think it's normal to have such a period of reflection at a huge milestone! Well done on being so brave! xxx

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  7. I've worn many hats myself too, and Is suppose I still do depending on who I'm with. I think that's not a bad thing though it means you're in tune with other peoples personalities and emotions. But yes, you do need that place to come home and call home. Take off the hat and just chill.

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  8. I'm sorry about your relationship experience. I've definately had my deal of bad relationships and I've changed over the years through them. Safe to say I'm happy with the person I have grown to be. I'm finally in a happy relationship. I'm sure I will change some more over the years but like you said I'm going to enjoy 'collecting my pieces' :)

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  9. Very brave post to write - so true how our personas change in different situations and we can be the girl's girl at one point and someone entirely different another. It is important to do some reflection

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  10. This post is so sincere and honest, we have all had experiences in life some good and some bad but thats the way it is and we learn from the experience.

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  11. This is a very sincere post straight from the heart, we all learn from lifes experiences.

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  12. I have just turned 30 myself and even if I didn't really have that put my shit together moment, I do feel the same as you. I feel like I am 100 persons in one and during the past 10 years I have experienced a many personalities. I think that our entire beings are built out of moments, out of things that happen to us and things we create for others.

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  13. A very brave post letting it all out there but I think it's so important to discover more about yourself to become the person you want to be x

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  14. Really well written, I felt like I got to know you in just a few paragraphs. I hope you get everything you hope for in the coming years x

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  15. I love this post so much. You are totally right, learning to love yourself and know who you are is really important x

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  16. You are many things, and an insightful human is one of them! This is a great post to share, and a very brave one at that. We wear so many masks throughout the years but the best moment is when we realise that what is underneath is the face we are meant to show. xx

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  17. I think as soon as we hit out late 20's or early 30's we need to prioritise everything in life. We feel the need to start from scratch for some reason!
    This was such a brave post for you to publish!

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  18. I did a lot of reflection when I turned 30 too. All the experiences in my life have shaped me to become the person I am.

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  19. Such a brilliant and honest post, I am not 30 yet ( 27 nearly) but experiences in life do shape us

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  20. It's amazing how much we go through in life but love how honest you are in sharing it all :D

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  21. Such a lovely story and thank you for sharing. It really does take bad experiences for us to appreciate the good in our lives.
    xx

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  22. I remember that on the day I woke up and realised I was 30 then, it hit me surprisingly hard. Don't worry, the fun is just starting for you :)

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