The process of loving someone teaches you a lot about yourself.

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Photography by: Sarah Warden Photography

I feel like I’ve been learning a lot about myself lately, every corner I turn I’m faced with either a reality that  should have been obvious or something I had never even considered about myself. These revelations have been both good things and bad things and a lot of things that don’t really categorize as either, but one thing that has proven true is most of these revelations come in relation to Chris.

He’s marrying me, so obviously he pays a lot of attention to me, in some ways he pays more attention to me than I pay to myself. He catches small mood changes that hardly register in my mind. He notices repeated habits that are so normal to me I don’t even realize I’m doing them. He speaks on them a lot, pointing them out or asking what’s wrong. It makes me realize how much of my everyday life and being I dismiss because they’re normal to me. That doesn’t make them any less a part of me though, in fact, maybe it makes them a bigger part of me than the intrusive acts or emotions. Maybe these small things, are the foundation on which my personality is laid.

Now, most of these things are neutral acts or positive acts, they aren’t things I feel the need to change, rather they just make me think, but that doesn’t mean that the act of loving someone doesn’t make you notice your flaws. Love may be blind, but it sure opens your eyes to yourself.

You see love makes you want to be a better person for the person you love, and in my case, it has made me critical on some aspects of myself. It’s not negative and I don’t mean it to sound that way. Seeing these flaws are a good thing, because it gives me the chance to approve upon myself, for both him and me. It’s room for growth, which we all desperately need no matter how good we already are.

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Room for growth: Some mistakes I’ve made lately.

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I was thinking about accountability. I was also thinking about growth and how the internet is a highlight reel. I was thinking about how all these things mix together. For younger people it’s harder to process the fact that you’re not seeing everyone life as it actual is by following them online. Adults know that, and we know that well, but we have no drive to make dents in our online perception because we all like looking better than we actually are. We like to display ourselves as if we have no room for growth, because we are, for lack of better terms, fully grown.

I don’t want the internet to know all my darkest secrets. I’m really careful about not posting anything that will come back and bite me later on. I worry about what I like and how it would effect me if someone I knew scrolled through every single Favorited tweet of mine. It’s something to be careful about- after all employers, colleges, and people in powerful positions are known to do that.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be held accountable for my failures, because being accountable for them helps you grow, and no matter what social media portrays we all have a lot of room to grow. So how do we frame our online landscape to push us towards growth and help us become more?

Part of that is following people who inspire us, who teach us things, who motivate us, and who do so with honesty not envy. We need to follow people who are accountable and who are open. That doesn’t mean that they blast their mistakes with reckless abandonment, but it does mean they share their growth that came from past mistakes. It’s a easy way to say “yes I mess up” but also “I’m better off now because I corrected it”.

I don’t really find myself inspiring or motivating, but I thought I’d share some of my recent mistakes with you and what I learned from them. Then at least I can try to take steps toward inspiring and motivating myself.

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Authentic.

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I remember seeing authentic as a hashtag on someones post a while ago and thinking that it was a strange thing to hashtag. I take back my thoughts on that, because the word keeps gaining more and more meaning to me. Maybe it’s because this time in my life is one of growth. After all, that’s what most of your twenties are. So, as I’m growing and changing and strengthening parts of me I’m trying to get down to one thing: Who I really am.

The authentic Anna Katherine Oates.

It’s hard to say that we weren’t authentic at one point, because we’ve always been who we are, at least, we were in that moment. The thing is though, we get influenced so much growing into adulthood. I’ve talked about how I think most childhood traits are actually a big part of who you are and will be as a person. We change a lot as we leave childhood, but our personality really just develops off those traits like building blocks. But aside from key personality traits, we change a lot in those tricky years of middle school, high school, and even college.

Some of those changes are self-induced. But a lot of them are because of friends, pop culture, and simply trying to be relevant in a stage of life where we don’t seem to hold onto value easily. We change the way we dress, we change our groups of friends, we cut and dye our hair, we try some things that maybe we shouldn’t. We stray, partly because everyone is straying, but mostly because we want to be more.

We haven’t always been honest about who we are, and in those stages, we’re mostly lying to ourselves. It’s part of growing up. We shouldn’t dismiss our strange stages. They’ve helped us develop into who we are today- but that’s the question, who are you today?

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