It's funny how some things change and others don't. Yes, yes, plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose -- the more things change, the more they stay the same. Sometimes.
While visiting my family this past week, I was cleaning out some old papers, and I came across progress reports and such from as far back as 1984. Some parts sounded so much like me, and others, well, not so much.
Like this: "Each afternoon, Holly bounces into school, happy and enthusiastic about the day ahead." Or: "She often arrives at school with a spirited skip and a buoyant, happy greeting for her teachers."
It's nice to know that I once spent significant time bouncing and skipping. I'm no Miss Misery, but no one could mistake me for being bubbly. I know people who have not lost their bubbles, and I adore some of them. I just don't happen to be an ebullient person. Apparently, once upon a time, I was.
I'm relieved to know this, actually, because I also came across some poetry and stories I wrote, circa 1992. Good Lord, I was a miserable girl -- angry, sad, dark, resentful, full of so much pain and hatred.
Fortunately, my days of writing violent poetry and wishing pain and torture upon my peers are even further from my psyche than are the days of bouncing. Believe me, I'd rather be described by words like positive, affectionate, trusting, joyful, endearing, bright, creative, warm and loving. Apparently, I should take life lessons from my four-year-old self.
Here are some other observations I read and recognized as either still part of myself, or that no longer apply:
• "She seems to prefer activities that involve one or two children." (1984) -- Yes, I still prefer one-on-one interactions or intimate gatherings to big groups.
• "Holly enjoys all opportunities to express her stories and ideas." (1985) -- Hmmm ... newspaper columnist? Yes, that one still applies.
• "Totally unaccustomed to organizing herself." (1988) -- Unfortunately, yes, this is still the case. Despite my best intentions, and despite knowing how to be organized, I have a tendency to live in a bit of a state of chaos.
• "Holly needs to take a more active interest in discussions. She is often reading or working on something else." (1989) -- I am happy to say my attention span has improved somewhat in the past 23 years. Still, I'm still pretty easily distracted.
• "She is eager to push herself past comfortable boundaries. She wants to learn. She wants to grow." (1995) -- Well, yes and no. I continue to want to learn and grow, and I hope I never lose that desire. As far as boundary-pushing goes, I need to regain some of my eagerness there. A dear friend told me several years ago, and I don't disagree, that I've become quite risk averse.
• "She can sometimes be a bit too direct." (1996) -- Yes. I can be quite blunt. I've certainly learned the art of diplomacy, and that kindness is often more valuable than honesty, but I still have at least a partial instinct to tell it like it is.
• "Ms. Leber is a brave writer who is never afraid to ask hard questions." (1997) -- I don't know. Maybe. Sometimes. I hope. I try.
Your turn now. Are your old papers and reports hidden away in a box or a drawer somewhere? Pull them out. Look them over. See how you used to think, how you used to express yourself. See how others perceived you 10, 20, 30 years ago. Look at how you've changed. Look at how you haven't.
What do you think?
Holly Leber is a reporter and columnist for the Life section. She has worked at the Times Free Press since March 2008. Holly covers “everything but the kitchen sink" when it comes to features: the arts, young adults, classical music, art, fitness, home, gardening and food. She writes the popular and sometimes-controversial column Love and Other Indoor Sports. Holly calls both New York City and Saratoga Springs, NY home. She earned a bachelor of arts ...