What Would Your 8-Year-Old Self Say To You Now?

When did life become more about sleeping, avoiding, and escaping then enjoying, laughing, and fully living? How did we go from children who found every excuse to delay bed-time to adults seeking every opportunity to delay participating in life? When did we trade child-like enthusiasm for soul crippling adult expectation? Why do our elaborate childhood dreams transform into crippling adulthood expectations? And what would your 8-year-old self say to you now? These are not questions to create guilt. Rather, questions to stir up curiosity.

How similar are you living to the person your 8 year old self dreamed you to be?

I get the opportunity to teach children dance. It is full of great laughs, persistent need of patience, and blessings beyond compare. In one class, my 8 year old ballerina in training looked up at me and said “Ms. Tess, I’m pretty awesome right?” I looked into the eyes of this valiant, audacious, enthusiastic child and smiled not stuttering when telling her of her  exceptionalness. Not necessarily in the aspects of perfect turn-out, high extension, or the best pointed feet. She’s 8, she may very well be the next Martha Graham. Or again, 8 years old, she could be just as easily the next WNBA all-star, astronaut, teacher, stay-at-home mom.

What Do You Say To A Child Who Is Not Tainted By Time?

Honestly, although I stand in front of her as her dance teacher, I am more concerned with where her feet take her than how they look in her tendu. I care more about what thoughts fill her head than the sleekness of her ballet bun. She may or may not ever dance Swan Lake on a stage in Paris. But, no matter the platform her feet find, I want her heart to be assured of her unique, one-of a kind, much needed identity.

I want her to be proud of whoever she is.

Don`t you? It is easy for us to look into the face of children and proclaim the truth. That they are important, worthy of big dreams, capable of anything.

The Tables Turn…

How easy is it for us to look at ourselves in the mirror and say the same things?

hmmm… ouch.

How often do you create excuses to not chase after your dreams? How many times have you sat on the sidelines because of the opinion of another? How frequently do you count yourself out before the game even starts? If we were keeping score- would fear of failure or lack of belief be winning?

A Clear Perspective

This past month, I celebrated a year of choosing to be free from my disorder. A year of really hard work. A year of facing my fears. A year of battles. A year of freedom. And one thing I learned from this past year is: so often being tired is not always a need to get more sleep, but a desperate cry to get more zest in life, a greater passion, a fresh hope, a new perspective. If a good nights rest could cure the epidemic of tired adults, wouldn’t that vacation, day-off, or sleep-in morning do the trick?

However, instead of coming back rested from a break so often, we come back more tired than before. Why? It may be presumptuous for me to say, but could it be because we’ve failed to take our valiant, audacious, enthusiastic child-like self into our adulthood? Could it be we are in the rat-race of the world and not fully living in the bounty of curiosity, vision, and excitement like a child? Could we be bogged down by bills, paychecks, or more deeply, shame, failure, hurt? Are we too comfortable; too secure; too content in the prison of our familiarity to chase after the possibility of something better, something free, something life giving

A Plea To You, Warrior…

To you who feels so tired you can hardly sleep at night… thoughts racing, stress-crippling…  can I challenge you with something? Can you find a picture of yourself at 8 years old and look into the eyes of that child. what do you see? Who would that child want you to be? Slave to the unquenchable materialism of this world or radically unconcerned with fleeting fads? Plagued by conformity or uniquely vibrant? Scared to try or free to fail?

You may not be the astronaut your 8 year old self dreamed of being, but I urge you not to let the fact of never stepping foot on the moon keep you from reaching for the stars.

I am not certain on the necessity of more astronauts in this world. But, I am fully assured of the deep necessity of this world’s need of you. You, in all your valiant, audacious, enthusiastic child-like self are needed and important and absolutely extraordinary. Perhaps ludicrous for me to presume but, what if what the world truly needs isn’t actually more “zs” but more “yous”.

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