The other day I sat in my therapist’s chair as we fleshed out some of my childhood experiences. In that session, he asked me to speak to a younger version of myself, and on the table at that point was my five (5) year old self. Based on the discussion we were having, she was the one I would have thought I’d want to chat with, but instinctively, I was drawn to my nine (9) old self. She was the one I chose to speak to.
My nine (9) old self is my first introduction to criticism and judgement. She is my first encounter with finger-pointing and slut-shaming. She is the self that first held back her magic, quirks and “too-muchness” because she didn’t want the neighbourhood kids to keep talking about her. She is the one that weighs what she says, wears, and how she moves against the judgement of others.
Then I began to speak to her and I realized a few things. Though she bore the brute of being ostracized for having a “boyfriend” at nine, and though residues of said judgement stayed with her…she is the self that taught me not to care about living down to the expectations of others. She is the self that taught me resilience, bravery, confidence, and strength. She taught me to make decisions without leaning heavily on external opinions. She is the one who leans towards being unconventional…to move in joy and to live fully. She is the one who was hurt, but kept her magic — she harnessed it and carried it into adulthood. My 9-year-old self is the one who taught me that she is powerful beyond measure. Powerful enough to recognize that she does not need permission to BE, to DO or to SPEAK UP! She cancelled the jury and the judge, she found her tribe (two little girls next door) and used her voice. In that therapy session, I discovered that my 9-year-old self did ALL OF THAT!
Recognizing self-power freed her. I strongly believe she also freed me, because as I grew older, I realized the judgement never stopped. The world has a way of conditioning us to limit ourselves based on different factors from age to race to gender and everything else in-between. It is my responsibility to myself to choose how I want to show up whether it is conventional or not. It is also my responsibility to own how I show up, to not question or dissect it, and to not mould it or lower it into the expectations of another. You are simply gonna hear me roar, and that…