Isn't it wonderful to start a new year?
Don't get yourself bogged down in guilt the first time that you notice that you are the same (old) you. You were never meant to be anyone else. The Shla Hakadosh tells you why.
Each Jew has a portion in the future world. The portion set aside for you is unique. Imagine a king inviting you to a huge overnight festivity. Everyone enters the same gate, and walks into the dining area through the same doors. When it is time to retire for the night, each guest will be escorted to his own room, and sleep in his own bed. You are judged not only by what you achieved, but also by what you wanted, and what you aimed your life at. No two people are exactly the same in these regards. Nonetheless, one group stands out. Baalei Tshuvah are first on the list of those who made something of their lives, because they, by definition, follow their passion for finding meaning. Even a person, whose accomplishments are greater than yours or mine, may or may not have fulfilled his potential to the same degree.
That's the good news. The other news isn't bad news, but it is news that doesn't let you just accept yourself as though you are a finished product. At some point, you can't fall back on your B.T. status to get you your pass to Olam HaBa. You have to take responsibility for your emerging potential for growth. You may find yourself changing and growing more subtly than you did at first, but that doesn't mean that the growth is less significant. What's even worse than this news is that you have to be honest with yourself about how much you really want to move forward. It may feel very comfortable to remain the eternal Mechina Poster Girl. Ten years after, mechina, you have questions to ask yourself if you are just plain stuck. This time of year opens up new doors even to those of you who aren't in the dramatic beginner stage. It is easy to file away the entire month of Elul once the holidays are over. The reason is that the goals you may have set, may now seem too hard, or (worse still) no longer important. Day to day life is both appealing and distracting. Try to define at least one step that you want to take. The act of saying, "I want more" already changes you.
This isn't the end of the story. The main thing to remember is that you are very likely to be periodically disappointed in yourself. Instead of denying your feelings, just accept failure as part of the stew. Correct the mistake you made immediately! If you correct yourself immediately, the effect is that you do not have to deal with becoming desensitized to your true goals.
One of the areas you might want to look at is what I call The Drama. You may have scripts that you have learned to follow. Your mom tells you to clean your room; you act as though you have to defend your personal integrity as an independent human being. You grew up a little, and now it's not your mom. You're at Neve. Your Shabbos host asks whether you would mind putting something over your (bare) shoulders. You put on a fake smile, and when you get back to your room, you can't stop telling your roommate what you went through. When she pointed out that it would have been more respectful to go to a rabbi's home with a more conservative look, she got the brunt of your fury. After all, you feel like your survival has been threatened. It doesn't end here. You defend yourself against your mother-in-law, the System, and your fragility still doesn't let you feel that you are strong enough to bear even a bit of disapproval. Change the script. Try to see the other side of the coin; be your mom, your host, your rabbi, your spouse, even your mother in law! You may find yourself changing slowly, subtly, and ultimately more deeply than you ever would have believed.