Last night we pulled out the VCR, popped in a few VHS tapes and dabbled in the pool of old home movies. We saw my sister get her first piece of candy, my grandmother sing in front of an unappreciative audience (her 4 year old grandchildren), tons of presents opened, a Christmas tree trimmed, and interviews with a pair of twins twenty years ago when we turned ten. In between the talent show, homemade stop motion troll movie, and the summer school graduation where the kids wore white trash bags as gowns, something dawned on me.
As a kid, I used to be fearless. In fact until I hit high school and puberty I really didn’t have any self-esteem issues, body image problems, or doubts. Doubts are made for when life crashes into you and pins you to the floor, when you second guess everything about yourself, when the sum of what you see doesn’t add up to what you feel. But as a kid I did things I can’t even imagine doing now – standing up for a girl with no friends and facing ridicule from everyone else, defying the mean girl with the violent streak because I wasn’t going to let her push me around, performing in front of a crowd because I wanted to. I remember clearly the moment the illusion shattered – when I realized damn, I sucked at that, why did my parents let me up there – but that girl before she realized it was an illusion, she rocked.
It was embarrassing to say the least – watching yourself 15, 20 years ago always is – but it was also enlightening. People say they want to be kids again and I always thought it was because of the lack of bills and responsibility and stress. But that’s not the whole story. Because the childhood you was daring and adventurous, wild and creative before any of those words became euphemisms for business strategies and core competencies. The ten year old me saw most of the world as black and white, but the results of that were breathtaking.
I don’t see much of that girl in me anymore and that’s a shame. As I sit here and think about what I want the next decade of my life to be, I know that if I let that girl come out and play more, be as exuberant and fearlessly herself as a 12 year old who didn’t know any better was, then I would be a happier person. My life would be better for it. Can I tap dance and play the flute and sing any better now than I did then? Highly unlikely. But she didn’t know the word ‘can’t’ – and neither should I.