“I often miss the little girl I used to be. The one whose dreams had no barriers. The one who believed in a world where anything is possible. But most of all I miss the little girl whose heart was so full and unbroken.” ~ Unknown
I wanted to be a mermaid when I grew up. And since I had it in my mind that I wanted it, I sure as hell believed with all my heart that I was going to get it.
I wanted to be a writer, so I would stay inside during recess time to write a “chapter book” rather than the single page paper assigned. I wanted to be a “Cheetah Girl,” so my fourth grade friends and I formed a girl band and performed beside the swing set on the playground.
I wore whatever I wanted without any creeping fears of judgment. As a child I was incredibly stubborn. In order to avoid arguments, my mother gave up on her dreams of having a fashionable child and just allowed me to dress myself in whatever fashion no-no I dreamt up.
I was open-minded and carefree. I remember making friends with the “weirdest” girl in class on my first day of kindergarten. I didn’t care that she was weird; I just knew that I had fun with her and that she was nice. So with those simple qualifications, we became “best friends.”
I believed wholeheartedly that a Prince Charming was in my future and that magic was going to happen in my life. All the Disney fairytales made me believe some man was going to come around and treat me like gold, and then we would live happily ever after.
When did I begin to settle? When did I become vulnerable and start to doubt myself?
As an adult, sadly, I know now that I can’t be a mermaid. But there are so many things that I want out of life that seem too far-fetched, or simply out of reach. As a child, if I wanted something, I was positive I was going to get it—one way or another. Why did adulthood strip me of this confident, self-assured girl?
I used to write all the time—about anything and everything. I began writing shorter and shorter stories in class so I could join the other kids at recess. I didn’t want to be labeled a loser. As I got older, I longed more and more to be accepted by my peers and to blend into the group. I never applied myself in high school English classes, because I was lazy, didn’t want to learn to use a Harbrace and didn’t want to to be called a nerd.
Why did I limit myself so much during those years?
My short-lived, fourth grade singing career was brought to an abrupt halt when our girl group broke up due to irreconcilable differences—each of us wanted to be the lead singer. Where did that self-confidence we had as fourth graders go? None of us could sing well, but we sure as hell rocked out and believed in ourselves. So much so that it became our downfall.
I quit wearing my Lizzie Mcguire inspired outfits and opted for the name-brand clothing that all the cool kids wore. Even though I didn’t like what I was wearing, I still threw away the sparkled, fluorescent and crazy-patterned outfits that I adored.
Eventually, I stopped being friends with the “weird” girl from kindergarten, because I didn’t want the other kids to call me weird too. By middle school, I opted to be friends with the girls who treated me like garbage and stomped all over my friendship. But they seemed “cool” and wore makeup, so they became my “best friends.”
Throughout the high school dating scene I ended up settling for boyfriends who failed horribly at living up to my childhood vision of Prince Charming. Every jerk of a boyfriend I ever had made me believe all men treat women badly. I thought this was simply what I would have to settle for.
Why did a few bad, high school relationships cause me to question all men and accept less than what I deserved for so many years?
As a grown woman, I have decided to live more like the wild eyed, bushy haired little girl I once was. She knew what she wanted, went after it, and didn’t doubt herself for a second. I have missed and longed for this girl for years, and I am finally finding her again. Never lose your childlike spirit—and if you do, try your best to find it again.
Letter to My Self:
Dear Extraordinary Girl,
You may have tried to fit in, again and again. You may have even “toned it down” enough to actually succeed—for a while. But it made your heart hurt and you just couldn’t betray yourself any longer. Then, there you were again—standing out instead of fitting in—being exactly who you are.
It is not easy to be true to yourself. Sometimes it is a lonely road, and a bumpy road. There are days when we all want to look around at what everyone else is doing and then just do the same—go with that flow and fit in. At least it wouldn’t feel so lonely. Or would it?
It is always better to be true to yourself than to try to be true to everyone else. If every funky little daisy in the flower garden spray painted herself so she could hang out with the roses, the world wouldn’t have any variety at all, and what a sad, sad life for that sun-shiny, spunky, free-spirited daisy. She was born to be a daisy, after all. And guess what—the other flowers want her to be a daisy, too. Daisies are wonderful.
Be courageous enough to boldly live your own truth. When you do, you will light up from the inside and illuminate everything and everyone in your path. And you will be happy. You will be beautiful. You are so beautiful—see it!
Be it. You are so very spectacular and so very loved.
Author: Emily Cutshaw
Apprentice Editor: Gayle Fleming / Editor: Toby Israel