“All the wonders you seek are within yourself.” –Sir Thomas Browne
Childhood. It’s a time of laughter and learning, a time of growth and experience. But as a society it seems we tend to think that as we advance toward adulthood, we need to leave our childhood desires and fantasies behind and just “grow up already.” And you know what? I think this is one of the biggest mistakes any of us could ever make.
I think the heart of that little girl or little boy we once were holds many keys to unlock doors of happiness that are far too often closed in adult lives. It’s when we try to extinguish the spirit of the child within us that we tend to find ourselves lost and trying to be found.
Consider what a child does when they are feeling a little low… they try to make themselves happy. Play. Sing. Go sit in a corner and talk themselves through it. Whatever it takes to make the sad feelings subside. They don’t deny their hurts, but they try to find ways to feel better. What does the adult do when times are tough? Self-medicate. Hide. Get angry. Whatever it takes to cover it up and pretend it’s not happening, often times only intensifying the original problem by doing so.
In two weeks, I return to the college campus I left seven years ago, the time at which I decided to leave the profession I had always dreamed of someday being a part of. Growing up, becoming older and ‘wiser,’ had taught me that those dreams I had dreamt for so many years weren’t realistic. So I listened to the world and its worldly lessons, and four years later, I found myself with a college degree and a job I hated. Not because of others, mind you, but because I didn’t even feel like me in the work I was doing. No, there was nothing “wrong” with the job per se, and I was darn good at it, but it was a job that just wasn’t and isn’t meant for me. I didn’t know then what it was that I was meant to do in this world, but I knew that what I was doing definitely wasn’t it. It’s been a long process since that pivotal moment, lots of soul-searching and putting myself ‘out there’ for further discovery and exploration, but I’ve done my darndest to let my heart lead the way. As I have picked away at the walls I have built while growing older, what I have uncovered are reminders of who I used to be, and the realization that deep down, that’s who I still am and will always be. I realized that it was when I tried to forget the love in the heart of that little girl that I lost my peace and sense of accomplishment and direction of life toward a greater purpose (outside of and in addition to God, of course). That, and the help of a really good book, helped me nail down the confidence I needed to finally take the brave last leap of giving my official notice and entering the college world again.
I may not be the same girl I was seven years ago when I took a little detour from my initial career path, but I am most certainly still her at heart. With these experiences of the past years under my belt, I return to school with the inner peace and calm that comes with knowing exactly what it is I need to be doing in this moment. And with that, I couldn’t be more thankful for the lessons I’ve learned.