Last night, just before I lost consciousness to sleep, I saw myself objectively—what I’ve been doing, how I’ve been acting, how I dress, what I say—the way you sometimes look in the mirror and get surprised by what you see, and at that moment I realized that I didn’t recognize myself.
At a bagel shop many years ago, as I was waiting for a friend to join me, I overheard a man and woman talk over the tiny coffee table next to me. He told her that despite being worth billions of dollars, Warren Buffet still lives in the same home he grew up in and drives the same car for years, because he lives by the theory of congruency. That means every time he makes a decision, he makes sure that his choice is his, and his alone and that he doesn’t let the situation dictate his actions. He makes sure that he’s true to himself.
As a high schooler then, at a Christian school with friends who’ve grown up with me since Kindergarten, though this conversation struck me as fascinating, I didn’t think it applied to me because I have never had the opportunity to be anything but myself. If I tried to be someone I wasn’t, my mother, my best friend, my teachers would all call me out on it. They knew me inside and out—my horrible temper, my skin problems, my introversion—they could paint a picture of me in their sleep.
But when I went to college, all of that changed. I wanted people to call me Rosie. Rosie never raised her voice, and for the longest time everyone laughed whenever she told them she used to have shouting matches with her parents every day. Rosie’s photos were always perfect, with great skin and tidy hair and perfect filters. Her friends in college looked up to her for skincare and makeup advice. Rosie spoke up in class and her apparent charisma landed her jobs at magazines. Most people would not believe that her heart would beat really fast before talking in front of big groups, even if it was just a group of friends.
And so, as Warren Buffet predicted, she finally hit a wall. At some point she stopped being able to make confident decisions because that voice that used to make her feel good when she made the right choice was no longer there. As I sat up in bed, wondering who I’ve become, I wondered if everything that’s changed is just a release of things I never got to do at home, that maybe I’ve just changed and this is who I am now. Maybe I splash purple all over my room because I can now while as my mom dictated the wallpaper at home.
But maybe somewhere along the way, I lost myself a little in the big race to land that fancy job ahead of all my high school classmates or become the most mature dresser of all my girl friends. Maybe that’s why I found myself just doing things and saying things because I thought I should, because that’s what was going to get me ahead and because that’s what people wanted to hear. Maybe that’s why when I sat down with someone over coffee, I found myself rolling my eyes internally at the things that were coming out of my mouth. Somewhere along the way, I had become Rosie and stopped being Rosana entirely.
Two quotes stuck to me during this dilemma, one from (don’t laugh) Taylor Swift. She said, “Try everything, and the things that stick will become your style.” Someone else also said, “When you grow up, everything that you thought was just a bad habit, is just you.” So maybe, I’m just growing up, and feeling my way around the world, tossing out feelers and tasting it all, just to find out who I really am. Or maybe not. Maybe something did go wrong because somewhere in between, something didn’t feel quite congruent. But I want to find it again--whether that means going back or charging forward, I have no idea. All I know is I haven’t written like this in two years, and I’m writing now.