Sometimes, people change.
The problem isn’t a personality, it’s often a personality shift. I have one friend who is terrible at texting me back and who MIGHT take the time leave a voicemail every two or so years. Months can go by before he sends a response, and no matter how quickly I may shoot back a text, I may be left waiting another week or so. He doesn’t hate me- he’s just that busy. And not that into his phone. I have no issue with that and still consider that person a close friend. It’s because they’ve “always been that way.” I’ve come to expect that social behavior from them and it might even worry me if they started texting and calling more frequently.
I know I’ve changed a lot in the last three years, since my diagnosis. In some ways, for the better. In other ways, I’ve allowed myself to become more distant to focus on “me,” meaning I, too, have become bad at checking my phone. Before, friends used to joke that if you ever needed to wake me up, all you had to do was send a text because I could not resist checking it, no matter how deep my sleep. Now, I’m getting better not to rush to my phone every time I hear a beep. In fact, my phone is often silent or dead altogether. For me, this is significant progress. But to others it might seem negligent or mean. While I am no stranger to assuming everyone hates me, isn’t it true that some people probably don’t like me as much anymore, as a result of my change?
I am (slowly) coming to terms with the fact that the people who love me will understand that I cannot always act as I was before grad school. At my core, though, I’m still the same. I laugh at almost everything, treat Carolina basketball like a second religion, and just don’t have the patience for slow movies. Or most movies. But my views on life, health, and the world have shifted dramatically and I’ve been forced out of my little bubble of comfort and safety.
My friends have changed too. I’m so proud of them for that. I can’t imagine that we would have made much progress if we all still functioned and thought the way we did in high school or even college.
“You’ve changed” can be such an insult. I used to resist and spend whatever portion of my cognitive resources necessary to prove to people that I was the same.
But why shouldn’t I change? If I didn’t let my experiences shape me into a different version of myself, wouldn’t that be of more concern? Should I just brush off any significant turn of events God sends my way?
That used to bother me.
Now, I just say thank you.