We’re always in a season of forming - of shaping and shifting and moulding from who we were, to who we are, to who we’ll be, in 5 minutes from now. A day from now. A week from now. This season is often overpowered by others, I reckon. But it’s always there. It’s the foundation. And it’s the most formative season in our youth.
For a long time I was forming alongside my sister. If you asked me in my early teens if she was my best friend, and a role model, and who I wanted at my birthdays and graduations and who I wanted to introduce my boyfriend to and show my life to - I’m certain I would have said yes.
I would have told you about Christmas Eve sleepovers in our new pyjamas, watching our new movie, probably talking about boys and fighting over if we’d watch her Sex and the City or my new Nicholas Sparks DVD first. I would have shown you photos of us matching - even though we were 2 years apart - with our Dora the Explorer haircuts, in yellow and pink dungarees. I’m sure I would have had a lot of other things to tell you, too.
But those memories glitch out when I try to see them and live in them, when I try to rewind back to them. Like a VHS tape being recorded over. They’re buried, replaced with memories of family therapy sessions. Of my first year of university, sitting in my now-best friend’s dorm room in a Zebra print chair hearing the booming music next door, telling her my sister is an alcoholic and that parties make me anxious. Of hearing stories my parents hid from me for ages to protect me and seeing them break down. Of nights with my tears being held and carried by my bed sheets and car seat.
Adolescence and youthhood can be a magical time of tinkering around with new things - and this tinkering around is strongly connected to our brains. They’re ripe at this age. Tender. The places and situations we find ourselves in seep into them, forming new ways of responding, reacting, existing.
When we were knee deep in it all, a good friend of mine said, “You are more than the circumstances you were born into.” For ages I didn’t realize how deep my circumstances shaped me. And for ages I was so bitter. I was frustrated, and angry, and I was tired of the cycle I existed within.
I don’t often willingly share this part of the story of me moving to New Zealand with others. Mostly because it makes me sad to talk about it, but also because it took a lot of courage. I was scared to leave my family, my parents, my brother. They still protect me. I asked them to not tell me things for a while, so I don’t hear about things unless I’m there, seeing it, feeling it, and breaking apart from it. I was scared to be far away, feeling free, and know that there’s potential that they feel the opposite. But we are more than the circumstances we’re born into, and sometimes self-love, and forgiving yourself, and letting go - well, sometimes it looks like leaving.
Recognize the circumstances you were situated in when you were forming - the patterns, responses, ways of existing that you need to unlearn to show you that there is more to life. You are worth taking the time to begin to understand the patterns. You are worth doing the work to slowly, delicately, rewire them with grace, and you are more than them. There is so much more out there.
Leaving isn’t abandoning. Leaving is boundaries.
If you feel stuck, like your life isn’t yours - you can leave. They’ll understand. And you’ll learn so much more about who you were and who you are and who you’ll be.