Lately I’ve been feeling childish, as though I’m grasping for an adulthood that I can’t understand. I’m in a slump, watching friends of mine have babies and buy houses and set out on a career path. It’s making me crave mortgages and 401K’s and living in a town where everyone knows your name and you go to the same restaurant every Friday for date night. And yes friends, even the thought of a child to solve this slump has crossed my mind (No, I am not preggos and have no intention of using this as an excuse to try out parenting).
In examining this feeling a little closer, I don’t think I necessarily want all of those things. Rather, I think I’m craving stability and a sense that I’m working towards something, anything. I don’t know what the scope of my life looks like a year from now, let alone five or ten years from now and that is only exciting for so long. To put it more simply, I’m grasping for anything that will help ground me.
Enter yesterday’s risk. I equally feel like an inexperienced recent college grad, a gangly teenager, and a wide-eyed child. I feel as though everyone around me knows what’s up and I’m running like mad to catch up. Naturally, as I tend to in these situations, I go to the Buddha of my inner conscious, my hubby. And, as usual, he provided clear insight into my monkey brain, saying, “If you’re already looking back (at my childhood), maybe you should examine what it was back then that made you feel so good, and use that to move forward.”
So I began to think about where this regressing was leading to. And I ended up stopping at a very young age. This is me at four:
I love this photo (partially because it has Missy in it, my most favoritest dog of all time. She was the coolest, sweetest creature ever). I actually keep a copy at my desk, mainly because it reminds me of who I was as back then.
I was powerful and strong. I had just been teased relentlessly when this photo was taken, but I wasn’t crying or upset. Instead of getting emotional, I walked over, crouched down next to my dog and spoke calmly about how I needed Missy to get my back if something went down with this bully. I was ready to fight.
I was daring. My mother used to call me her little daredevil because I wouldn’t back down from anything. I even got really pissed off at Busch Gardens (an amusement park in Virginia) when I was six because I wasn’t tall enough to ride the roller coaster The Big Bad Wolf. I wanted to ride it not because everyone else was, but rather because it looked cool and exhilarating. I didn’t care if anyone came with me.
I believed I could conquer the world. I had the typical answers as a child to the question of what I wanted to be when I grew up, but what I secretly wanted to be was the first woman anything. I didn’t care if it was the President or astronaut on the moon, as long as I was the first woman to do it.
I didn’t need a clearly laid out path in life because I was going to blaze my own. I wanted to make a difference in the world and do things no one else had done. I wanted to be my own woman. I didn’t question my abilities and strength; that social conditioning didn’t start for another few years. At the time of the above photo, I believed in myself unquestioningly.
In looking at all the above it makes complete sense why I’ve been wanting to revert back, why I’m searching out who I was as a child. How can you blame me? Who doesn’t want to feel all those things? During the time mentioned above, that feeling of stability I’ve been craving was completely interwoven into my consciousness. I didn’t need to search for grounding; I already had it.
I guess the risk in this is accepting where I am. I don’t own a home or have a retirement plan or anything that I am building on right now. In some ways that’s really thrilling, being in a place of exploration. In other ways it’s difficult to track what I’m doing and where I’m going. I have a feeling I’ll look back on this time and see this part of my journey as a deep learning experience. But now, in these moments of feeling so out of whack, I think my best bet is to remember that, at four years old, I woke up everyday thinking I was the shit. That little girl is still in me somewhere. And if I can tap into that feeling again, I’ll emerge from all this stronger and unstoppable.