Seeking Solace

Be the person your younger self needed

More stories from Julia Van Allen

Seeking Solace
May 13, 2019

When I say “I need to be the person I needed when I was younger,” what comes to mind for me is the image of a person who knows exactly who they are and what they need to do in order to make their dreams come true.

I have to admit, 12-year-old Julia wouldn’t have been impressed with 22-year-old Julia. She had some big dreams. She’d just won a national NASA competition and visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida (yes, really). She wanted to be a scientist; she wanted to make a difference.

I doubt 12-year-old Julia would think that editing and laying out stories at a university newspaper is all that interesting. She probably would’ve complained endlessly about it, if I’m being totally honest.

Thankfully, or maybe not — I have to admit Kennedy Space Center was pretty cool and there are still times that I think about transferring to a school that’s warmer and has a forensic anthropology program — I’ve changed, as all people change with time.

The beauty of time is that we’re given opportunities to grow. We have the chance to take the challenges we face and turn them into something beautiful, or at least something half-decent. This is something I’ve had to do recently.

The person that I needed the most when I was younger was someone who knew exactly what she wanted, who would see obstacles as interesting challenges to tackle and someone who wouldn’t derive all of her self-worth from the opinions of others.

While I’m still working on all three of those areas, I figured a good place to start involves getting real with myself. This past semester, and the winter break that followed, provided the perfect situation for me to acknowledge exactly where in my life I needed to do some work.

After I found myself in the midst of a breakdown, I decided that I needed to become the person that I needed when I was younger. I needed to be the strong, confident person who could charge into a new situation without a second thought.

To do this, I had to come to grips with the reality that I didn’t feel like I knew who I was, or had any real inkling as to who I needed to become. So I made a list:

While I realize this isn’t exactly an all-encompassing list, I think it’s a pretty good place to start.

Putting the effort into work on myself has been one of the most rewarding experiences, and lately, it’s been something that’s saved me a lot of stress and worry. In a moment when I would have crumbled months ago, I find myself searching for solutions.

I won’t pretend that I have it all figured out, but I know I’m working toward a more balanced tomorrow.

Younger me may have looked at certain aspects of my life and wondered where she went so off track, but I know now that chasing after passions that mean more to you than what you can humble-brag about is so much more fulfilling. I’ll probably never become a scientist — let’s be honest, I wouldn’t have been very good at it — but that’s OK. I’m having a good time nonetheless.

I became the person I needed when I was younger: someone chasing after my dreams, building up confidence where there was none before and learning how to ask for help when I need it.

Keep fighting the good fight, Blugolds. We’re nearly done now.

Van Allen can be reached at [email protected].