Check In With Your Childhood Self

Charcoal drawing of a seated and smiling mother and child
Mother and Child, 2004.

If you’re like me, you’ve wondered from time to time whether you’re on the right path.  You may be contemplating a career move or relocation, or maybe you’ve already hopped around a bit but still don’t feel like you’ve found a perfect fit.  Some people have a passion or a dream that keeps them striving in one direction their whole lives, but for the rest of us, our life trajectory isn’t necessarily so clear.  Sometimes you’re restless or discontented in your current situation, but you don’t know what to change to get yourself unstuck.  When I’ve felt that way, I’ve found it helpful to think about my childhood self.

What were you like as a child?  What did you love to do?  When you played with your friends, what kind of role-playing did you do?  How did you entertain yourself when you weren’t with your friends or siblings?  Before you had responsibilities, before you felt expectations, what excited you?

When I was a kid, I loved to read, write, and draw.  I’d write little rhyming poems and send them to my older cousins.  I always wanted to play school, and I had to be the teacher.  I liked standing up for other kids on the playground.  As an only child, I was independent and had no problem spending time alone, though I liked being with my friends.  I also sang constantly.

Some people might look at the games and explorations of their youth as mere frivolities, but I think they reveal valuable information about what makes us tick.  Given my early affinities for reading, writing, speaking to groups, and acting as an advocate, a legal career was probably a good choice for me.  But I’ve also always been creative, and I am at my best when I have outlets for self-expression and reflection.  I don’t sing to myself as often as I once did, but it still makes me feel good when I do.

Take some time today to think about who you were as a kid.  What would your kid self think of the person you are today, and the life you’ve created?  What advice would little you give to adult you?

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