Finding this picture the other day was a little shocking. Because even though a lot has happened since this picture (2006), this is me, too. Would the "me" in this picture recognize the "me" sitting here tonight? How wrong would my predictions for the future "me" have been?
When we are awkward and oily in middle school it feels like we will be awkward and oily forever. When our kids are newborns it seems like we will never sleep again (**spoiler alert** this is true, at least for a few years). This spring, in the midst of a mental health crisis/awakening, it is easy to believe that faulty brain chemistry will hinder me for the rest of my life.
You've probably heard that the only constant in life is change. I am not a fan of this statement, though I occasionally repeat it in conversation to sound enlightened. To shelter us from this destabilizing truth, our brains simply pretend as if our future self will be just like our current one. This provides the comfy illusion that we know something (anything!) about our future. Here's how psychologists talk about this:
"Research has shown that we can have considerable difficulty predicting our future requirements because our current emotional states override them. This is called the projection bias and it occurs despite the fact that we have plenty of experience of the problem and its undesirable consequences." --Jeremy Dean, sott.netRecently I've been feeling not so great, and am trying hard to get better. (Some exciting progress over the last week, more on that later). My recent reality has been mostly about trying to calm down and show up for my life as fully as possible. Thanks to the projection bias, it often feels like my current, rather challenging, predicament spells out my future.
But look at me in this picture! I was--I am--also a person who goes into the jungle and swings on vines! On this trip I was still obsessed with bugs and often irritable and frequently anxious, especially when we got stuck in an oil town for 24 hours with no running water. But I was also brave and joyful and fearless.
Maybe the old and the new me are not so different. It's just us in all our messy beautiful glory. I am still flawed and in pain, and I am still perfect and whole.