It’s funny when you realize you no longer need all those “self help” books you bought in middle school. The glossy blue covers claiming they could tell you everything you need to know about dressing, behaving, and living like a high class woman. Throughout my tween years I learned mostly how to create outfits that would take me from the office to the club (because I was doing a lot of both of those things at 12), how to catch the right man and keep him (I went to an all girls school so the closest thing I had to a boyfriend was a crush on Logan Lerman), and the oh-so important question, are you a Jackie or a Marilyn? (I’m a Marilyn).
I poured through the pages of these books as if absorbing the information would transform me into a beautiful, fully-developed woman with clear skin, silky hair, and killer style. Those books were some of the most important items I owned. They gave me hope. They provided an escape from myself and an image I could live up to. Those books were proof that the tormenting, energy-sucking walls of middle school would someday close with me outside of them, and my itchy, pudgy, uncomfortable body would still be stuck inside.
Growth isn’t something you feel. You can mark the lengths of height on the wall, or measure the expanding and retracting of your belly at the end of each week, but internal growth can never be noticed. It’s like falling asleep. You lay there and think, and think, and think, until you open your eyes and it’s morning. I planned for a long time what my life would be, and I kept those plans in mind knowing I would follow them through, thinking that’s who I would become. Until one day I walked into my room and saw the neat stack of books sitting on my floor and realized I hadn’t opened one in a very long time. Growth happens somewhere in between. It’s the darkness you sleep through but don’t remember when you wake up.
I don’t need to read those books anymore because they no longer have any use for me. Somewhere along the way I turned into the woman I was so anxious to become. But there was no dramatic moment, no instance of change. It was gradual.
Perhaps I’m not completely what my younger self had imagined, and sometimes it’s hard to let go of decisions the former me had made. But I’m older than her, I’m smarter than her, and I’m facing different situations than her. It’s hard to let go of who I thought I was going to become, but I suppose I trust who I am now more to make those decisions, because I’m not the one sitting alone in my room reading self help books.