Last night, as I lay in bed, I started thinking about whether or not I identify with the young me. The child I was then. I mean, most people would say I am still very much a 31-year-old child. But that is beside the point. Kind of.
It is an odd one. Obviously, you do generally identify with that kid. You were it, at one point. But when young, you are less inclined to take stock. Thinking about how you are now and what you want for your future lacks the immediacy that maturity gives you. The now is more pervasive.
Do I really have a strong sense now, of who I was? And how ‘she’ differs from the older me. When I first wrote that last sentence, I wrote ‘it’. How it differs from the older me. The word choice is telling.
I felt I differed greatly from the younger me. That kid was fearless.
But was I really? No. There were bouts of fearlessness—running into school on my very first day without a backward glance; opening the door to the postman naked—but I also had moments where I didn’t want to leave my mother’s side. I could feel unsure and shy of other people.
As I got older, these feelings remained. I was a confident and happy teenager, with the usual insecurities and thoughts. Only the fears were different. It was the sense that it was me I was afraid of. My body was letting me down. It was a weakness that everyone could see. Sometimes, just sometimes, being in public was difficult. I would get pins and needles in my whole body if anyone looked at me. True story. It was a weird form of anxiety. One I never truly registered until later.
Added to body issues, there were the confidence issues about capability, the ones we all face. Imposter syndrome or feeling you don’t have the authority to go after what you want. Now, I have changed my mind about what I want to do with my life so many times. Sometimes the switch has taken years, sometimes hours. I find myself now, right back to where I was when I left school. I want to write, forever about everything, in every medium. The desire is so clear now. Yet this feeling niggles at me, that I will change my mind again. There are always several career paths percolating in my head.
My darling mother called me something as she drove me to the airport recently. Something like a contrarian. What was it? The word was perfect…
But I have always been changeable. That is good, isn’t it? It shows I am adaptable.
It also shows I can move my own goalposts at the drop of a hat—blindsiding not only myself but everyone around me. I have seen that exasperated face coupled with the eye rolls so many times. It is actually quite humorous to me now.
You may not know what this is, but I am what is known as an ENFP personality type on the Myers Briggs (16 personalities) test. That means, in a general sense, I hold a certain set of standards of being in my head and heart, and cannot understand if others don’t act accordingly. So, it follows, if I am always changing my mind, how on earth am I supposed to keep a steady hold on myself? Or relate to others in a way that is acceptable and stable!?
I am still working on that…
I think at this point I have to get comfortable with the fact that the only stable thing about myself is my instability. That, and my award-winning mood swings—though there is no trophy cabinet to speak of.
So, do I identify with that kid, really and truly? I absolutely do, because she is just as weird now as she ever was.
Some family quotes:
“Always naked” (Admittedly this has taken a sharp downturn in recent years, but can always be remedied. Naked time is vital for mental health…)
“CAPRICIOUS!!!” That’s it. Fuck yeah, that’s it.
I had to ask my mother for the word. And she delivered. I am going to share the response at length because it was better than I could have hoped for:
Capricious… How are you my darling?… Tea is the drink of champions, especially Earl Grey and Indian mixed!! If you drink that you will imbibe the spirit of Nanny, a very strong feisty wonderful woman, I was always sure you took on her spirit because she passed away two weeks after you were born and I took you to her funeral! Love you my darling!
– My ‘Mutti’
Nanny was a Suffragist. She was probably a bit capricious too.
This gave me joy. To see what your own, admittedly biased, mum would say about your ridiculous behaviour as a human. It is refreshing.
Then, what started as idle musing and late night scrawling became so much more. It became identification with my past and my family history. It led me down another path. To think about how I treat my past and future, combining the two within the present.
Living in the now is so hard to do. The increasing interest in meditation and mindfulness shows this struggle is entrenched in societies across the world. There are apps and formal classes. Some schools are even implementing meditation classes for kids. Living in the now is valuable. But is the price you pay disconnecting from your past or a relinquishing of the future? Why is living in the now necessary? And how is it achievable?
These are big questions. Ones I will endeavour to answer in part 2.
From this moment to yours.