There is a burst of laughter that lives in the deepest part of your gut that announces itself when you realize you're doing so many of the things you always wanted to be doing. Another one follows it with the knowledge that you aren't so afraid of all of the other things you plan to, and will, do. You didn't know you had this laugh, you didn't know you could do these things.
It's in the way you don't start or end every other sentence with "sorry" as though something as simple as asking for soy milk is the equivalent of throwing a fit in public. "Sorry, can you tell me where the restroom is?" "Would it be possible to not have cheese on that? Sorry..". It is even more so in the way you stop others from doing it. There is no need to constantly apologize for living, you say. It catches you off guard, the way you encourage others, how you've become the friend everyone confides in, the advice giver. The way you hear "I needed to hear what you had to say about it". It stops you dead in your tracks as you hear yourself speaking your mind, being yourself, instead of twisting and fitting into whatever mold worked for each moment.
It's seen in the way you speak up for animals, the way they seem to be filling up so much of your time. The way you're almost (almost) embarrassed at how you're literally unable to stop glaring and shaking your head at the tourists in the horse-drawn carriages/animal cruelty mobiles. The way you donate money to a political campaign. The fact that you have strong political opinions and feelings toward legislation and rights. The fact that you just used legislation in a sentence. The way you checked online obsessively one recent Tuesday night to see the results of a vote in a city you don't live in because the issue matters to you. The fact that issues matter to you. These are shocking things.
The way you surprise yourself sits in the piles of paper you automatically sort into their respective envelopes so you don't have to deal with them come next April, when you will excitedly do your taxes. It lives in the shine of the bathroom you just scrubbed and the vacuum cleaner that brings you actual joy and the total shock of how much you love cleaning. It settles in the darkness that you're not afraid of and the furniture you moved by yourself four times. It wakes you up at 730, ready to start the day. It leads you toward the poetry section instead of fiction, and to Otis Redding instead of Something Corporate.
It's not so much new as it is growing. It's always been there, patiently waiting, the friend that tugged you along, telling you to go there, try that, speak up, say it, popping up in the most unexpected ways. It waited until you were ready but now there's no stopping it. The way you surprise yourself is interesting now.