[originally published on November 9, 2014 - my 20th birthday]
Inside all of us, we are everyone we used to be.
There's five-year-old Heidi who sits in a room in my Mind Palace with fifteen-year-old Heidi. And that's okay.
I'm learning to love my young self.
She wasn't happy, to be honest. My child-self suffered.
All of us have pain our child-self lived with, and lived through.
Sometimes, our child-self tries to grab the steering wheel when we start driving toward something that hurt us in the past. It does everything it can to avoid pain, even when the pain is important for our current self to go through.
Our child-self decided what to fear.
Our child-self decided what hurts.
It's important to respect and understand that self's decisions, and then to do what needs to be done anyway. I'm learning how important it is for me to gently take my child-self's hands off the steering wheel, hold her tight, and make sure she know that Current Self is going to do all she can to take care of all of us.
I need to acknowledge the little girl who is scared of the dark.
I need to acknowledge the little girl that still wants to play. The one who has the imagination to find an adventure in every moment of every day. There's a child in there. She's innocent, she's naive, she just wants to be safe and loved. I can't go back in time and tell my parents, or pastors, or friends what to fix. I get to be the one who loves and protects those younger selves. And I need to be the adult. The version of me that knows the child-self will be okay gets to call the shots.
The fact of the matter is, I get to choose who drives.
Maybe five-year-old self does understand the beauty of a butterfly more than I do. She should be the one who looks at beautiful things. There's not a chance in childhood to fill up your heart with enough beauty, so I'm going to show my child-self all the beautiful things I see. I might have the understanding of Fall leaves that a twenty-year-old has, but I can have the wonder of a five-year-old.
Early-teen-self is not allowed to talk when I'm sad. She's reckless, impulsive, destructive, and I don't need her anywhere near driving. However, she feels deeply and honestly. Let's be honest, twenty-year-old self has the mechanics, techniques, and language to write poetry and songs, but early-teen-self has the pain to inspire a song.
I guess I'm learning that growing up isn't to just turn from one thing into another, it's to outgrow an old self and preserve their memory in my body and heart, knowing that I had a heart then, and that heart beats inside mine now.
It's okay that sometimes I feel like I'm ten.
It's okay to be a grown-up.
Long live the child in me.