“You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren’t. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don’t think your way into becoming yourself.”

Anne Lamott

I once considered running for office. Not because I had any political aspirations, but because I realized I had a natural talent for reinterpreting my past. Politicians, bless their hearts, have this uncanny ability to dance around their previous statements, adding a sprinkle of nuance here and a dash of context there, until you’re convinced they’ve been consistent all along. It’s like watching a magician pull a rabbit out of a hat, only the rabbit is their revised opinion, and the hat is their ever-adaptable memory.

I’ve caught myself doing the same thing. There was a time when I believed that growing my hair out and flat ironing it to perfection was the ultimate style statement. The result? A Darth Vader-like helmet of hair that seemed impervious to wind, logic, and fashion sense. But instead of admitting to my past hair travesty, I find myself explaining, “Well, I was trying to channel my inner rockstar—not the Dark Side of the Force.” See? Politician material.

Life has thrown its fair share of curveballs, and with each one, my beliefs, behaviors, and even the way I treat others have evolved. Sometimes, I look back and think, “Who was that person?” It’s like finding an old photo of yourself wearing socks and sandals. Tempting as it is to burn the evidence and pretend I’ve always been this enlightened, well-dressed individual, I’ve come to realize that the transformation is the juiciest part of the tale.

It’s easy to say, “I’ve always been this way,” but there’s something profoundly human about admitting, “I was once that, but now I’m this.” It’s a testament to our capacity for growth, change, and the occasional fashion blunder. So, instead of hiding our past selves, let’s celebrate them. After all, they’re the ones who got us here.

Embrace the journey, the missteps, the socks and sandals of your past. Because growth isn’t something to be ashamed of—it’s a story worth telling.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Product + Content Marketing at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.