You know those big moments that happen all the time in movies and novels, or even in real life, where you discover something about yourself you would never have known before?
Well, I’ve never had one of those. Not once. Maybe that is because there is absolutely nothing interesting about me. That would actually make a lot of sense.
The point is, these moments do happen, and when they do, you are supposed to come away from them with a stronger sense of identity. You have a better understanding of who you are. Again, I have never had one of these moments so I really can’t speak from experience.
The thing is, I have a sense of identity. But it hadn’t hit me until a few months ago that the reason I’d never had one of these eye-opening, life-changing, inspiring moments was because my entire life, people told me who I am and who I want to become. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I hadn’t let myself discover these major identifying aspects of my life on my own. It made me sad, because I felt like I had given other people control that I was supposed to have. If I am being honest, I disappointed myself. I wanted to change the way I saw my own identity, because other people’s opinions were negatively impacting how I looked at myself. That’s not okay.
So I made a decision to rediscover who I really am. To have those moments where I felt like I understood a part of me I had never known. I wanted a moment. I never thought that moment would come sitting in a doctor’s office waiting room. Alone. Sure, there were other people in the room, but I felt alone. Sitting there on those uncomfortable plastic chairs that squeak if you move, awkwardly surrounded by a bunch of middle aged women and feeling totally out of place…I realized something.
I realized that I hated who I was. Hate is a really strong word, and I don’t use it loosely, so when I tell you I hated myself, believe me, I truly did. That probably was not the dramatic moment you were expecting. Me neither. But that was my moment. A little depressing, but that was it. I was, once again, disappointed. But I’ve learned that it is not always the moment itself that helps you find yourself. It is what comes from it. As I peeled myself off that plastic seat desperately trying not to squeak, I decided that I was going to reinvent myself. I’m pretty sure that is what they call a midlife crisis. I can only hope this wasn’t actually my midlife crisis, considering I am only 15.
Well, now that I had decided I needed to completely rediscover who I am and once that adrenaline rush died down, the anxiety kicked in. “But what if you can’t change and this is who you are and people don’t like you and you don’t like yourself and then you’re stuck and you won’t be successful and no one will ever love you and you’ll die alone?” That’s how I decided what I wanted to work on first. The overthinking simply had to stop.
Now I haven’t fixed it—not even close. But I’ve learned two things. One, you cannot change the way your brain works. It simply is not possible. Two, it is a lot easier to try and fix yourself than to try and change yourself completely. God created you the way he did for a reason. Embrace it. Lesson learned.
I wish I could say the story ends with “and she lived happily ever after, never overthought again and was totally confident, with her husband and kids in her modern farmhouse home with the gorgeous kitchen exactly as she planned it on her Pinterest board.” And maybe it will end that way. But right now, the story is far from over. I can’t tell you that the heroine of our story was successful. There is no “mission accomplished” part of this story. Yet, rest assured, there will be. For now, all I can say for the end of this story is…to be continued.
Esther Ginzberg is a sophomore at Maayanot Yeshiva High School for Girls in New Jersey. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.