Have you ever looked at an old photo of yourself and cringed at the idea of who you presented yourself to be? You may have been your authentic self at that time, but as you’ve evolved, so have your interests, looks, and ideas. What you wore 10 years ago may look silly today. Your hairstyle may have been shaped by a wacky trend, and you may have cared more about looking good rather than looking happy. Analyzing our past self often leaves us wondering how we ever left the house looking like we did.
The pain that comes with looking back on our blunders is not necessarily based only on our looks. Photos of our blunder years are visual representations of the state of our consciousness at that time. They remind you of questionable decisions you’ve made in your past, the regrets you live with today, and a general lack of maturity you displayed.
Remember that without these feelings, you wouldn’t strive to improve yourself every day. Our motivation for self improvement is largely driven by a desire to not regress. A sad reality is that as you read this in the present moment, the current version of yourself will again be scrutinized by you in 10 years’ time. We do not stop growing and evolving.
Rather than being saddened by the realization of your shortcomings in years prior, be content with the changes you’ve made leading to the present day. Maintain a healthy relationship with analyzing your past self. This relationship first involves an understanding and acceptance of who you were in the past. The past does not define you as a person, but does define the lessons by which you learn to improve yourself.
Below are two things to remember when attending reunions in which you aim to impress.
Authenticity Wins at Reunions
When we reunite with people from our past, the same feelings mentioned above come into play. There is a tendency for people to show how much they’ve changed since the last time others saw them. We want to present an improved version of ourselves, which is fine and good. However, do not make the same mistake of assuming your future self wouldn’t look back on today and laugh in anguish.
Be weary of your desire to show people how much you’ve changed, and allow them to judge for themselves. You shouldn’t be afraid of exhibiting similar traits that you showed in the past. Do not desperately try to escape the person who you were, as every human has their natural way of being. Your changes should have been made gradually over the years, and the person you present yourself to be at a reunion should represent years of change, rather than a shallow act to impress.
It’s for this reason, that it is important to continuously analyze yourself. Look at videos, photos, and listen to stories of your past. Let these habits drive your process of improvement. Present yourself as authentically as possible at reunions, and place your bet on your honest self-analysis expressing your growth as a person. Trying hard to seem different from a prior version of yourself can come back to bite you. Our desire to impress is what causes us to cringe over our old photos in the first place. Limit regret by not engaging in the same behavior. Trust the fact that deep down, your authentic self has changed for the better. Allow others to witness these organic changes.
Play to Others’ Desire to Feel Improved
The same desire to show others you’ve improved exists in those who you haven’t seen in a long time too. When you reunite with people, keep in mind their tendency to show you how much they’ve improved. Some will boast, some will brag, and some will put on a facade. Their tendencies to do so can serve to improve your likeness. While everyone around you is trying desperately to show an improved version of themselves, you can win interactions by telling them exactly what they want to hear. Cater to their boastful measures, cater to their braggadocios stories, and play along with their facade. We tend to like those who are willing to acknowledge our process of self-improvement.
Rather than focusing on spreading your image of an improved and exciting version of yourself, act honestly while focusing on how much others have improved. You can only assume people are being genuine, so even though you may suspect their stories to be exaggerated, do not assume all improvement you see in others isn’t genuine. Be thorough in your compliments, and be interested in your questions. Doing so will be a breath of fresh air for everyone you interact with at a reunion, as they won’t feel suffocated by just another person trying to prove something to themselves.