Do you ever look at yourself and wonder how you got wherever you are today?
Are you anything like what you thought you’d be when you were a kid?
Are you as surprised some days as I am about your life and how it’s all going?
I am sure there are millions who knew from a very early age they’d be a doctor, scientist, astronaut, librarian, firefighter, teacher, parent – they just knew that’s what they would become. And for many, it turned out exactly like that.
But I’m betting many of us are often surprised – hopefully in a good way – about the face that greets us in the mirror, about the folks we work with or for, about the life we live now as adults. About the work we do. About the decisions we made or didn’t make that brought us here. About the reasons for them, if we can even remember.
As Søren Kierkegaard famously wrote:
Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.
If you look back, can you see the seeds being planted that would grow you into the current YOU?
Can you see how they were nurtured – or weren’t – and how that affected you?
Can you see how you were shaped, either by DNA or circumstances, or both?
What remains of your 10-year-old child, wondering about his or her future? What part of that child is still within you, marveling at the life you live now?
My 10-year-old was a brat, a loudmouth, one who would take her toys home if the other kids wouldn’t play the game her way. I was invited to birthday parties based on other kids’ mom being friends with my mom … rarely based on any friendship of ours. I never felt quite right about the conformity that was touted in the 1950s world, or with a mother who prized belonging to the “right” social groups above all else. But I never knew what to do about it.
I was adopted at birth, so I shared no genetics with either parent. I also had a far better environment to grow up in than my mother had, so I was a lot different than she was in all ways. My folks surrounded me with love, so as a little kid, I always felt 100% cared for, but as I grew, arguments about what was proper for young ladies grew more heated between my mother and me. I was a rebel without being able to articulate why, and it made for some tough times.
Fast-forward a few decades, and while I can still see that confused little girl, I am grateful for her strength then and during the years that followed, even though she had no idea what to do with it. I am grateful for the decisions she made, doing the best she could to find a way to be who she was without alienating her entire world.
Thanks to what I call lucky twists of fate – taking risks that many called crazy, leaping and THEN looking all too often – things turned out pretty darn well.
And when someone asks me what I do today, I answer “I’m an accidental editor,” because it’s nothing I ever planned for. And we laugh and discuss that odd label I’ve created.
All in all, my life has been remarkable for its near-total lack of planning. I often laugh when I realize how far I’ve come, how lucky I’ve been and still am, and how strange and wonderful it is to be so comfortable with myself – finally.
What about you and your life? Would your life now make sense to your own inner 10-year-old? Are you comfortable in your own skin – and is that something new or long-standing? How did you get from there to here?