“Don’t Ever Change”

I stumbled across a small box full of old notes the other day as I was cleaning out the drawers of our old roll-top desk. Written on notebook paper, in brightly-colored gel pen or thin-lined mechanical pencil or trusty old black ink, they are relics from my junior year of high school, a time when the interpersonal drama of my small clique of friends and the gossip of who liked who and what so-and-so said were of utmost importance, when the adult world outside of our small hometown seemed big and daunting and also somehow full of promise and allure. For a moment, I was transported back, reliving old memories, remembering old flames, missing old friendships that have since withered for lack of care.

We were so young! I say that now from the ripe old maturity of my late twenties, knowing full-well that, someday, when I am aged and gray, I will look back at the silly ramblings of this blog with indulgent amusement. And yet, the fact remains: though we were on the cusp of adulthood, though we thought we were so mature, so grown-up, we were so very young. We were learning the basics of friendships, of relationships, planting the seeds for who we would become once we stepped out of the shelter of home, but in so many ways, we were children still.

We were children still a year later, as we signed our yearbooks and anticipated college and said our goodbyes. We all said the same things to each other – “Stay in touch!”, “Remember this moment!”, “Don’t ever change!” – and, though these were common sentiments, sentiments seen multiple times throughout my dusty senior yearbook, sentiments I’m sure I wrote in my notes to others, I have failed on all three counts. I have lost touch. I have forgotten many moments that were once precious to me. And most of all, I have changed.

It is only this last point that does not cause regret, for though I can appreciate the thought behind an imperative not to change, I’d like to think I’ve grown, that the differences between who I am now and the girl I was then are good differences. I’m not the same person I was; the experiences, the relationships, the heartaches and the triumphs of the past dozen years have molded me and shaped me in ways we could not have foreseen as we scrawled those notes onto yearbook pages, and this is a good thing.

This life we get to live is all about change, all about growth, all about learning and adapting and figuring out how to better love God and love others, and thus become better human beings today than we were yesterday, better human beings tomorrow than we are today. And so I hope that my high school friends have changed as I have. Not because they were terrible the way they were, not because there was some huge lack in them that required modification, but because an unchanging life is a stagnant one and a boring one, because growth is healthy and good. I hope that they have changed, and that they will continue to change until their time on earth is done. And I hope that I, too, continue to grow, that I never feel as though I have ‘arrived’, never fall into the lie that I have become complete and have nothing left to learn.

I threw those notes in the recycle bin, laughed at the ridiculous pack rat in me even as I took a conscious step to defeat him, but I’m wondering if I should go rescue them before the truck comes tomorrow. Not for some sense of nostalgia or for their sentimental value, but as a picture of the girl I once was and this journey I am on, a record of the ways I have changed, a gentle reminder that I am not done growing yet and I still have much to learn.

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