You've Changed and That's Ok
December 10, 2021 - Shauna Jurczak
“Stand tall. Stand proud. Know that you are unique and magnificent. You do not need the approval of others.” – Jonathan Lockwood Huie
When I first posted about this, we had just wrapped up a federal election. As the dust settled and I looked back on it, one thing I noticed, how prevalent it had been in this particular election for opposition parties to try to dig up and call out other candidates on things they did 5, 10, even 20 years ago. I’m not here to validate or crucify anyone for their past. What I do want to look at were their responses.
While there were many empty apologies and statements like “My actions were inappropriate”, no one really took the opportunity to discuss what they learned and how they changed from their situations. No one chose to lead with a discussion about how those lesson have made them better. This was an election, a time we're looking for for growth and change as the outcome. Instead of finding accountable leaders, we got very little leadership or progress.
Why am I reflecting on this, you may ask? As I reflected, I realized how easy to throw stones at others for their past, to "cancel" them for it. Then I thought even deeper and asked myself "What if you looked back at yourself 20 years ago? What would you think of that person? Would you laugh about high school hair styles, or your first “love”, or your first car. Maybe your first love was your first car! Regardless, when we take time to look back, why do we forget to pay attention to how far we’ve come?"
You are not the same person you were 5 years ago, let alone 20. At least I hope you aren't! Growth and change are a good thing. We are changing all the time. When someone tells you that you’ve changed, does it feel like a compliment, an insult, or an opportunity to reflect on your growth? I pick option three and here is why:
If you haven’t changed, experienced ups and downs, failed, succeeded, and learned about yourself and the world in the process, then what was the point of everything you’ve gone through?
I look back 15 years ago. It was 2007. I was a professional cheerleader (pictured above) and a university student. I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up”. Yes, I was an adult by age, but what did I really know? What had I really learned in my first 25 years of life? I thought I was cool, witty, and wise, and if you had asked me then, I knew everything. My opinions were strong, but uninformed. My creative ideas we good but my execution was lacking. My idea of self was grand, but I still had a lot to learn. Looking back, I see now that I knew a whole big pile of nothing!
Fast forward to today. I probably still know a lot of nothing, but I have also learned a lot more along the way to lead me to where I am now. I own a business, mentor young entrepreneurs, and teach yoga and dance. I help people achieve their goals on a regular basis. I’m a cat mama, and have found the love of my life. I’ve embraced my unique and intuitive sides, and I am fully satisfied living a quiet life with the morals of a lead actress in a Hallmark movie.
I know, writing it like that, it looks like I snapped my fingers and boom! A happy, healthy, adult life just appeared. But if I had played the entire 15 years through, without a fast forward button, you would have witnessed heart break and far too many situations where I made very poor decisions. You would have seen times where I was influenced by negative people and energy. Times where I was that crazy girl. Times where I was so worried about what others thought, that I stopped caring what I thought. Times where my current self thinks “Why, girl? Why?”, and many times that owed other people some big apologies.
I think it’s fair to assume we all have those moments. Things we’re happy to keep buried in the year 2006. I’m happy to keep old me in the past too, but you know what? I’m not upset about any of it either. Why? It’s easy – life is a journey, your transportation is a roller coaster, and it’s worth the entire ride.
It took a long time to realize, but I know that I could not be here today without those head shaking, less than desirable moments in life. Each of them taught me something. Each of them opened my eyes to something new in myself and something new in the world around me. Each of them built me up and prepared me to grow and accomplish more and be the type of leader, partner and member of society that I am today. Maybe it didn’t seem like it at the time, but it was worth it.
How many of you see old pictures of yourself (like that little girl pictured above?!), or bump into old acquaintances, or replay an old memory in your head, and wonder what you were thinking? How many of you feel ashamed or embarrassed?
Stop being ashamed of the person you once were and embrace your journey. Own your journey. Be happy that the person you once were led you to where you are now. Don’t be afraid to share your story of growth. Whether you took big steps, small steps, sprinted, or crawled, your journey has brought you here.
I’m sure some of you reading this today are in a place where you’re thinking, “But Shauna, I’m not really where I want to be. I had imagined so much better for myself. If my journey brought me here, then now what?”
Hold strong, my friends. The good news is you journey is not over! I know I make it sound like rainbows and sunshine. I also know that no one’s life is perfect. Ups and downs don’t stop just because we age. I may be in a place in my life where I find more to be grateful for than not, and I’m certainly happy I’m not the same as I was at age 22. Still, I fight to find balance in my daily life. I work to find ways to continue to grow, educate myself, and stay confident. I aspire to live in a quiet house in the country outside of a small prairie town. Yes, my journey brought me to where I am now, but it’s also setting me up for where I’m going next, and I know the best is yet to come. I’ll get there. We all will.
Take some time today to think about the great ways you’ve changed in the past few years. Thank your former self for the lessons you learned. Thank those who helped you along the way. Own your journey, and set yourself up to keep moving forward. Think about where you once were in life, where you want to go, and let the strength and experience you’ve gained guide you there. Be positive and proactive in you journey while holding tight to who you are, and who you are growing into. Most importantly, be you, 100% authentically you, while embracing the kindness and goodness you have inside.
Then, the next time someone says, “You’ve changed” you can reply, “Yes, I have, isn’t it great?” You never know who you might inspire or help in their journey!