Who Were You as a Child?
Life, for most of us at least, was far simpler as a child. Our imaginations ran wild. We played games and enjoyed great adventures. We designed roads in the sandpit for our trucks, imagined our grown-up lives with the help of Barbie and Ken dolls and “went camping” in tents made out of sheets spread across the kitchen chairs.
If the sun was shining, we’d be exploring our neighbourhood. My siblings and I caught tadpoles in the nearby creek and watched them grow into frogs in buckets in our backyard. Our bikes were our best friends as they could take us far away enabling us to discover new and exciting playgrounds.
The grown-up world
Adulting brings with it responsibilities – work, bills, perhaps our own kids and, of course, varying levels of stress. As adults, we don’t often give the child we used to be much thought. Chances are, that small child is still there and the things that brought us joy then, could again now.
I was sorting out my filing cabinet recently and came across my school reports. It made for interesting reading. It got me thinking about my life as a child, my reflections on what I had thought my future life may look like, and the values and work ethic that have guided my life and career.
In year one, I was described as “hardworking and very eager to learn”. Year three was the first mention of leadership when my teacher said I was “a very good group leader, always willing to help”.
Words that were consistent through my school years included: responsible, conscientious, well-mannered, mature, reliable, respectful, enthusiastic, confident, perceptive, industrious and creative. I’d like to think these words still apply today.
Thinking back to my childhood
I decided to do some conscious reflection. I travelled back in time in my mind. It was like watching a movie, or perhaps a Netflix series, starring a small blonde girl, with her family and friends as the supporting cast. I took myself back to the houses I’d lived in and through the various “episodes” of my childhood years. I found when I focused on a particular memory, it would unlock others.
For many years, my parents had a photo of me on their dressing table. I was sitting in a tree that I had climbed. I was an adventurous kid. One day, when I was about four, mum dropped me off at my Nana’s house so she could go shopping alone. I decided however that I didn’t want to stay there so I slipped out of the house and walked to the shopping strip where I knew Mum was going. This was almost two kilometres away. I’m not sure how I navigated my way there, I guess I’ve always had a good sense of direction. I arrived at the car park, just as mum was driving away. After bursting into tears, a kind lady took me to a nearby shop. Thankfully, I knew the name of the company my dad worked for, so the shop assistant tracked him down and he came to collect me.
When I grow up, I want to be…
In my reflection, I remembered the things I wanted to be when I grew up:
- an archaeologist – history has always intrigued me.
- an architect – I loved drawing up plans for the house I’d one day build.
- a travel photographer – those National Geographic magazines were inspiring!
- an air hostess – I sewed some hats for my friends and me and we dressed in our school uniforms so we all looked the same as we doled out drinks and meals on trays as we played.
- a writer – some days that meant being a novelist, other days it was a newspaper journalist or a features writer at a magazine (usually in a glamourous Manhattan office).
- a secretary – I loved tapping away on mum’s typewriter and filling in the old order books dad bought home from work. I was fascinated with carbon paper.
- a hairdresser – although two weeks’ work experience in year 10 cured me of that desire. I hated all the chemicals.
What became of these dreams?
These jobs still interest me, well, except for the hairdressing. After high school, I went to business college and my first few roles were as a secretary. This was a great foundation for my subsequent career shifts.
I still love architecture and have enjoyed planning the houses we have built and the renovations we have carried out over the years.
Whilst I haven’t dug up any lost cities, I have harnessed my interest in archaeology and channelled it into family history research. I have certainly uncovered some skeletons there!
My sense of adventure and love of travel has taken me around the world, and I have taken many photographs (some of which are hanging on my walls) and created wonderful memories. I never grew tall enough to get a cabin crew role, but I have enjoyed being cared for by the airline staff as I ventured across the globe.
I write almost daily. No, I didn’t become a famous novelist or work on a glossy magazine in New York. I did work for a newspaper for a few years, as a secretary, and that was fun. And maybe one day, I’ll sit down and write a novel.
What is the point of all this reflection?
One thing I have realised is that whilst our work is an important aspect of our life, it is only one aspect of it. To live an authentic, happy life we need to feel fulfilled across multiple aspects – our work, our relationships, our hobbies, our downtime.
We all have times when we feel frustrated, perhaps unfulfilled. It’s easy to blame it all on our job or our career choice. Maybe it’s time to rethink our career, or maybe, like me, you can journey back in time. Reflect on your childhood. Think about the games you played and what you loved to do as a kid. Can you fold any of those elements into your life now in some way?
Who were you as a child? Can you see that youngster reflected in your life today?