Yes, realizing that whatever people are thinking, it’s not about you even when it seems like it’s about you — and usually, even when they think it’s about you — is real freedom. I also find this realization is one of the upsides of watching my youth slip toward the horizon in my rear-view mirror. Aging has a way of rubbing off the illusions and masks of youth, no matter how much we resist. It can be a painful process, but past the discomfort there is joy. Sometimes I feel like the Velveteen Rabbit: I had to grow shabby so I could become real.

Thank you for this article: it’s a worthy reminder.

Written by

Writer & educator. The Startup, Writing Cooperative, P.S. I Love You, The Ascent, more. Award-winning short fiction. Visit me at

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