I hate it when people change. I hate it when someone is exactly like you and then slowly morphs into a stranger. It can be because of big life changes like becoming a born again Christian or a cumulation of little things. Like you became vegan and got really into organic farming and stopped drinking so now you live in Humboldt and post pictures of dolphins on your Facebook. All the little things added up to being a big thing and here we are not recognizing each other.
I don’t think I’ve ever really fundamentally changed as a person. My personality has, more or less, stayed the same. There have been no drastic changes. People will never hear about something I did and think, “Wow, that’s so out-of-character for you!” because I’m a creature of habit. I like what I like. In fact the most noticeable difference I’ve encountered in my twenties is the change in my tastebuds. Food I hated as a child I’m just now coming around to. That, to me, is shocking. Suddenly loving tomatoes and avocados when I abhorred both when I was younger is a huge deal for me.
This inflexibility I have in my character is, of course, a good and a bad thing. And maybe I misspoke when I say that I “hate’” when people change. I’m just more fascinated by it than anything else. I’m fascinated when the city person eventually moves to the country, when the non-smoker develops a pack a day habit. How do people do this? How do people add and drop characteristics of themselves seemingly on a whim? Mine are stuck to me like glue. Of course we never know what the future might bring. At the age of forty, I might change my lifestyle and become a different person but, judging by my history, it just doesn’t seem likely.
How does someone change? How does someone decide to make a drastic change? What skills are needed? I’m genuinely curious. Over the years, I’ve drifted from close friends because of subtle changes, things I was quick to blame on them, but maybe that was naive of me. Maybe I was changing too. Maybe I wasn’t right in thinking that I was staying the same while everyone was adapting to new personalities. It makes you wonder if you’re ever able to see real change in yourself or if you need others to be your mirror.
No matter the reason, it makes me sad to see people I love change into something unrecognizable. You try to fight the differences and pretend that time isn’t killing the relationship but at the end of the day you must surrender to change. You can’t ignore what’s no longer there.
By RYAN O’CONNELL