They

I was an idealistic dreamer. They told me to get my head out of the clouds and act responsibly, so I stopped.
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I hate waking up to the realisation that I’ve lost something.

Particularly those first few moments of panic when I try in vain to remember the last place I saw it. I backtrack mentally, through people and places and time. It occurs to me that I can’t remember when I last had it. The thoughts whirl faster through my mind. How long has it been since I’ve seen it? How could I not have noticed that it was gone? If I’ve gone on this long without it, is it less important than I’ve always thought? How will I get by without it? Will I ever find it, or is it gone forever? That happened to me just this morning. I woke up and realized that I’d lost myself. I don’t know how long I’ve been gone, and can’t remember the last time I’ve seen me. Luckily, I have many other selves. Fitting into one is as easily accomplished as stepping into a pair of jeans. Like jeans, some selves are more comfortable than others. The self I wear depends on my agenda for the day.

My work self isn’t very comfortable, the fabric is a bit stiff and unforgiving. My family self is somewhat comfortable, but a little too flowery for my taste, and too much pastel washes me out. My friend self is bright and cheery, and so comfortable that sometimes it feels as if I’m wearing nothing. But only sometimes. Then there’s my alone self, the techno-age me that hungers for knowledge and, given even a few moments of solitude, submerges itself into a world of computers and networks and protocols and code.While I enjoy the way this me feels, it’s still not the original me. I miss the person I used to be.

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I was kind and considerate and giving. I would, and oftentimes did, give my last dollar to a homeless person. They told me it was foolish and called me an easy mark, so I stopped. I no longer give money to the indigent. I no longer look at those people in their alcohol-stained clothing and toothless grins and wonder what path they chose to lead them to those ends. I no longer feel the pity and sympathy I once did. Instead I feel contempt.

I was an idealistic dreamer. They told me to get my head out of the clouds and act responsibly, so I stopped. I no longer stare at the walls and daydream, my pencil tapping a relentless beat on the table top. I no longer have the willingness to swallow my fear and take the risk, the risk that quickens my heartbeat. Instead I feel apathy.

I was caring and selfless, and always there for those close to me. Friends came to me regularly for advice, knowing I’d be there with a shoulder to cry on and a willing ear. They told me to worry more about myself and less about others, so I stopped. I no longer am able to offer endless hours of advice and consolation. I no longer spend hours waiting for someone’s tears to dry from my sleeve. Instead I feel impatience.

I was open and honest. My soul shone through my eyes. I saw nothing wrong with letting everyone know just how I felt. They told me I was leaving myself open for hurt, that I was too vulnerable, so I stopped. I no longer wear my heart on my sleeve. I no longer let you see how much your words hurt. Instead, I show indifference.

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They told me I’d change as I grew older, and they were right. They told me that my perception were off, that the world wasn’t the perfect place I saw it as being, and they were right. I hate them for being right. Long ago, I promised myself I’d never change. I’d grow, yes, but I’d never lose the person I was. I was wrong. I hate me for being wrong.

Maybe I’ll never again be what I once was. Maybe, in some apathetic, indifferent stupor, I ripped apart my original self and used the fabric to build the other, diluted selves. Everyone deserves a second chance, though. So if you happen to see me out wandering in the cold darkness, please send me home. It’s lonely here without me.

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