Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Child Within

 There is always much talk about connecting with your inner child. This is one of those bland, trite phrases uttered by the likes of Oprah and Dr. Phil to encourage people to regain a sense of play and wonder and learn to cope with the stresses of having to manage life in a world where everyone is forced to take life too seriously. This is all good and well, it is important to retain a sense of joy and wonder, be able to play, enjoy life, do what makes you happy regardless of if it will promote your career or fill your pockets. Seeing the world through the eyes of a child, climbing trees, catching bugs, getting grubby, feeling carefree, these are important to peace and happiness. But this is the idealized inner child, a child that may or may not have ever existed, the child we wish we had been. But really then, who is the Child Within?
    The Child Within, the real child that I was. Not the child I wish I had been. I believe that we are all born hard-wired to certain aspects of our personalities. Yes, we are very malleable and fluid as we grow into the end product, but I believe these hard-wired aspects will determine to a degree how we cope with and allow external forces to affect us. The child I was? I was not a gregarious, outgoing, happy-go-lucky kid. I was a painfully shy introvert, slightly too smart for my own good, the classic bookworm, chubby, and a head taller than the rest of my classmates. I always felt like an outcast, even among my friends. I felt too tall, too fat, too much the tomboy, awkward, smart but not smart enough. I envied the petite, pretty girls who could wear lovely dresses without getting them torn and grubby. The girls with pretty barrettes in coifed hair, not the unmanageable locks I hated to try and run a comb through. Pale, freckled skin that never tanned. It seemed there was nothing I was really good at, nothing I excelled at, always second string. I was so shy I would have rather wet my pants than have to ask the teacher for a hall pass. Entering the classroom late was a terror beyond scope as I would stand with my hand on the door knob for an eternity, heart pounding, dry mouthed, blood shushing in my ears, dreading the judgemental eyes that would turn upon me the moment I stepped into the room. A teacher's mild reprimand in front of the class was such unbearable humiliation that I endeavored to be unnoticed. Praise for a job well done, though appreciated by the deeply buried ego, was another reason for abject embarrassment. I knew anxiety attacks before they were named as such. So that is my Child Within. A child to be protected and nurtured, but not emulated by the adult me.
    I know that each of us has within us, the child they really were. And that child is at the core of our personality. That is the child that was the seed of the mature plant we have become. It does not mean we are that child, I know that I do have strong elements of that child very much alive within who I am today, but I have learned strength from that fragile beginning. I think that in order to truely understand someone, we should know who their Child Within really was. I believe that each of us still carries a vestige of that child, protects it, hides it from prying eyes, cradles it within our soul. If we remember the Child Within, reintroduce the adult to the child, we may find a deeper understanding of our adult actions and reactions.
     I have a definite fondness for my Child Within, fragile, insecure and neurotic though she may be. And I know I am still that child on many levels. The difference of the adult me is that I have learned to swallow my fears, ignore the anxieties and push ahead regardless of the anxiety attacks. My Child was not nearly as strong as the adult I have become, but then what child is? As we grow, our bodies change and become powerful, but look in a mirror and you can still see the face of the child behind the face of the adult. Why would personalities be any different? Our personalities grow, become powerful, independent, educated in the ways of humankind, and yet look into your soul and you can see the soul of the child at the center. What we must learn and accept, is that behind the strong, capable exterior of ourselves or a loved one, is the child that felt the outcast, or ate lunch alone, or was taunted on the playground. Remember that child when faced with a friend in crisis, or just having a tough stretch of road, think of their child, nurture their child. When in the midst of your own personal crisis, trauma, or life changing event, remember and care for the Child Within.

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