“We never change, do we?” That line, from a Coldplay song, makes more sense to me now than it did when I used to sing it all the time.
We’re all given the same opportunities to grow, but the core of who we are…never changes. What I used to think was an awful revelation, has recently shifted into something beautiful to think about.
Think about yourself. Do you like yourself? To your core…the person you have been on average for your whole life. I do. It may have taken me the last four years to settle on that answer, but that time was not wasted, even though I sure felt like it at the time.
This is turning into something beautiful to think about for me because I have known some truly remarkable people in my lifetime, and it helps for me to know that even if they made mistakes along the way (who hasn’t), they are still truly remarkable at their core. There’s just peace in that thought for me.
This growth period for me was a slow growth. I love that because even though it took so many years, that slow growth produced some strong roots–roots I desperately needed. I’d been running in circles and never accomplishing much. I felt so overwhelmed, yet underwhelmed at the same time. That’s enough to make anyone want to check out and binge Hallmark movies.
However, this last year brought a lot of people back into my life from almost two decades ago. That’s enough to be a concrete reminder of who you are. There’s no hiding from other people’s memories of you, and when they only had wonderful ones of you, it’s enough to bring you back to life and shake off all the dead leaves that had piled up around your heart.
One of those people who has come back into my life, after not seeing her for 15 years, is my incredibly talented friend, Brooke.
To properly tell the story of how we met and how we ended up where we are, well, that would be some kind of wild, page-turner trilogy or something, but very long story short, we met because she was my neighbor in an apartment complex back home circa 2004.
When we met, she was a senior in high school and I was 21. I remember she loved her dog, Max, with a fierceness. She also loved comedy. I remember being so jealous of her because she was so effortlessly beautiful, and even at such a young age, I could see so much potential in her–despite life circumstances. She was the first person to hire me to do photos that I didn’t graduate with from high school. It was a very big deal to me.
I moved out, then she did the same. We saw each other two more times after that, but then life took us away from living in the same town.
Fifteen years later, through my year of finally growing through the dirt to the point the sunshine was reaching me, I looked her up. I found her in South Carolina…and I cried from being so proud of her. I read all about her accomplishments and found out she is now a writer. I dialed a number, left a message for her with my old last name because that’s how she’d know me, and I waited.
It wasn’t long before we were talking almost every single day like no time had passed at all.
After about a year, I decided to pay a visit to South Carolina so we could do a photo shoot for her. She has worked so hard, for so long, and she is finally being given several platforms to share her work…share her story. The month of April is going to be a very good one for her, and I am so honored to get to be along for the ride.
All of this was just another full circle moment for me, and it was a beautiful one. We spent the entire day running all over the place to try and get as much accomplished as possible. But the greatest thing was that we could remind each other of who we really are…at our core. I’m certain we’d both forgotten.
We’d both tried so hard to grow, but kept feeling we were only growing sideways. This whole time, I think God may have just been giving us our layers, and this old world was just giving us something we could write about in order to allow others to feel a tad less alone. So you may feel like you’re growing sideways, but really you’re just growing at a pace slow enough to give you the roots you will need when it’s time to withstand the storms.
She is lightyears ahead of me in the writing department, but she has been such an inspiration. That old book I’ve been trying to write, since 2020, may one day leave my computer screen. She came back just in time to remind me that I’m an artist. Sometimes, we just need someone to remind us.
As soon as her projects are ready to go out into the world, I’ll be sure to share them here, but for now, I can say she has a poetry book being published in October, and two other exciting things happening in April, and for photos, here’s what I can share from our day. Not only is she a wonderful writer, but she also has an incredible eye for photography. I’m awful in front of the camera, but being around her, and just allowing my shoulders to give my ears a break for a day…just breathing for a day…allowed for authentic photos of me. That’s something that hasn’t happened in YEARS.
None of us know the impact we have had on other people’s lives, but it sure is magical when you find out you made someone’s life a little easier, just because the core of the person you are. It’s also a beautiful feeling to be the person who gets to remind someone of who they are.
You can find Brooke’s writing work info at www.storiessouth.com, and her stand up comedy info at www.comedy.storiessouth.com.
*The title of this blog is a reference to Noah Kahan’s song. I feel like everything in my life somehow relates to music, so this just felt appropriate. His music has been what I’ve listened to on repeat while writing since I resurrected my blog.
I hope you find your people who make you feel like you shine.
I hope you get to keep them.