When the Past Assumes the Present

Do you ever run in to someone from your past? Connect with them on some social media platform? If and when you do, what is your first thought about them? Is it good, bad, indifferent, or just blankness?

Over the past year or two, I have been thinking about how people view me. Do they see me for who I am now or who I was or who they thought I would be?

Recently, a classmate from high school died. After I heard the news, I started thinking about all the fun and bad times we had together in high school. I was then saddened by the fact that after high school I did not keep in touch with her. Was it because we had a big fight our senior year? Or because we took different paths after high school? Or perhaps a mixture of both?

A lot of times, when we reconnect with people we have not seen in a long time, we automatically think of those formative years of high school. The ones full of drama and gossip and everything else. But why is that? I am quite guilty of it and I do not know why. So this got me thinking: Should we view or judge someone now based on the person they were back then? You know, the high school kid? For instance, do people still view me as ‘The Biggest Flirt’ or do people view me for whom I have become? The wife, mother, etc.

Oftentimes, I feel like the world judges us on WHO WE WERE. Not who we have become.

I openly admit that I was a flirt in high school, among other things. I did however, participate in several extra-curricular activities and sports while attending high school. However, being active in those things did not change how people viewed me. But, does my ‘being a flirt’ overshadow the things that I did then and who I have become now?

For instance, a few years ago, I started working for a small satellite company here in town. On my first day, I recognized someone who worked with me. Turns out, she and I went to middle school together. When I knew her then, she seemed nice but never gave me the time of day, so in turn, I thought she was snooty and mean. Fast forward five years of working together and I’ve come to learn that she is not the person I imagined. She is kind, loving, spunky, a great mom, dancer, and so funny! She made working in our office fun and tolerable at times. I just love her!

I think the part of our psyche that tells us to think or remember who people were is also the part that holds judgment towards them. Why do we not give people a chance to show us who they are now, now that they are grown-ups? And furthermore, why should we allow the gossip we may have heard about them over the years cloud our judgment of them?

I have made many mistakes over my ‘young’ lifespan and many of those mistakes were made before I was ‘grown up.’ Graduating high school does not make one a grown-up. One must make their own path, their own way, and in their own timing to make the ‘grown-up’ status. I know I did. Sadly, over the past few years, I have met and interacted with a few classmates who have yet to do that. And I say sadly, because it is sad. Some of them anyways.

However, knowing someone the way they were should not prevent one from getting to know them for who they are today. No, today, I am not a big flirt. I am a happily married for almost 12 years woman with two children, a dog, a cat, and three chickens, with land to play and garden on. My husband helped make me the ‘grown-up’ I am today. I love my Savior and different ministries of new friends around the world! I have a heart for people and women. I like to speak my mind, sometimes a little too much. I love deeply and fiercely. I wonder how many of the ‘friends’ I have on social media platforms — I mean seriously, are we really ‘friends’ with all those on social media or more acquaintances or past associations? — know the grown-up me?

When meeting or becoming ‘friends’ with someone over the web, I think it’s OK to think about who that person once was. It will happen. But, we should not hold a candle to who they were. The person you’re meeting is probably a completely different person from the one you once knew.

So, give people from your past a chance. Give other moms a chance. Take them out for coffee if your paths cross. Send them an email or PM to say hello. Get to know them now for them, not who you thought they once were. You might just be surprised.

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One Response to When the Past Assumes the Present

  1. Danielle Guess
    Danielle Guess April 21, 2017 at 1:31 am #

    Thank you for this perspective, Christy.