Feeling directionless or downright stagnant in our lives is a common experience of anyone navigating growing up. We await change, something transformative to occur, and when it doesn’t, we end up feeling lost; kidnapped of a chance to progress in a period held up as one of transition.
I recently became trapped in this sensation, built up between walls made up of an expectation to grow and my inability to not have something I need to fix or learn from. You see, for the most part, my fixes have fallen into my life in the form of a person or event, so when my external experiences weren’t giving me anything new, I felt lost.
After months of the feeling returning like a rash in periods, I attempted to not rely so heavily on random occurrences for growth. I began flicking through books and drowning my ears in just about anything to inspire answers to the important questions: Was I happy with who I was becoming? What needed to give in order to better myself?
It soon became apparent my questions weren’t going to be answered in a Bestseller self-help book. As insightful as their words were, attempting to implement conflicting philosophies into my life seemed too much of a commitment for a student already precariously balancing responsibilities. I needed something simple, a starting point.
The ‘AhHa!’ moment surfaced not in a miraculous timing of events but in the rereading of the pages of dainty pink dairies, crammed with reminiscences of my childhood. While flicking through pages of oscillating handwriting techniques and questionable drawing skills, it clicked. Instead of waiting for something outward to propel me into the person I wanted to be, why not try framing my mindset as mini me, ask her, her opinion on my life and where I’m headed?
From the palm-size pages, there was a lot I managed to deduce. In the diaries, I’d written stories, songs and created dramatizations of my days for my own pleasure, not for any external validation and just like that my dilemma of whether writing was truly something I wanted to pursue as a career was made void. I’ve always loved it.
“What I want is to get back to the girl who smiled at strangers. Who tried to understand people and their interior worlds because they were just as interesting as hers.”
I rated my days, with all it took for a day to be ‘5 stars’ was a trip to a coffee shop, I appreciated the little things, not as a mantra but because the world really was that big and small things screamed adventure. Mini-me would want me to see more beauty and excitement in the world.
The trickier introspection came in the question of whether I was happy with who I was becoming. It formed a more nuanced response within me. While I’d stuck to my guns on goals and pursuits, despite them perhaps not offering me the most lavish of lifestyles, I realised I had let some of my best qualities go astray and needed to reaffirm them.
Recollecting my childhood, I knew my propensity for compassion and sensitivity came fluidly; it was more affirmed and natural, especially for the most lost of people. Yet as cliché, as it may be- life toughens you up. Bad experiences riddle even the kindest of people with distrust, and we battle more complex choices than what’s the right thing to do. In my own quest to navigate a crueler world, in my teenage years, I made some catastrophic errors in judgment, careless mistakes at the expense of others. But to some degree, who hasn’t?
Such moments irrevocably shape us, and I am grateful for them even in all their discomfort; however, they indicated more the traits I don’t want to possess than those I do. What I want is to get back to the girl who smiled at strangers. Who tried to understand people and their interior worlds because they were just as interesting as hers.
I’m aware I’m looking back with a certain rose-tinted nostalgia, that childhood had its anxieties and pressures I don’t recall. Still, I viewed the world less cynically, and maintaining some childlike wonder is something we all could benefit from. Rooting back to my childhood self, illuminated that most of being ‘more you’ is just relearning about who you most instinctively are, after years of trying to fit within the perimeters of what’s expected of you. It’s about watering the parts, you diluted of yourself in the process of adapting to your climate.
I’m now trying to synthesize the changes I’ve made in life with a more untainted me. I am now living under the motto of would younger me be proud of what I’m doing? If the answers yes, I’m on the right track. If no, I have something to work on.