Friday, January 16, 2009

Self Portrait at Nine

A few years ago,when Mike and I moved into my childhood home, we were putting things away in the kitchen. In a rarely used cupboard above the refrigerator were years of school papers that my mom had saved. As I went through them, seperating my work from my brother and sisters, I could picture my school, my teachers and classmates, my favorite books. I could even smell Elmer's paste. Among the pile of crumbling construction paper projects, was this self portrait and the statement was attached. It immediately brought a smile to my face. I don't remember being this self-assured and carefree. I can't believe that I drew myself with my glasses. I hated my glasses!

It made me think, "If I was this confident at age nine, what happened during the next 23 years?" How did I lose it? Here I was, in the fourth grade, announcing to the world, " This is me. Take it or leave it." By the time I was 33, I had no idea who I was. I had chosen a life that had placed my free-spirited, nine year old self in a cupboard above my mom's refrigerator. Why did I make those choices? I can only say that I let fear and worry hold me back. Those two things will paralyze you in an instant. I don't care how big or small your dreams are, they will never come true if you always take the safe roads and never take a chance. I can't think of a single person who had great personal success without taking a risk. I don't know of anyone who has achieved great personal success without failing somewhere along their journey. Risk and failure are two things that I really struggle with but the universe keeps sending me little messages to keep me on track. Today, I logged onto my blog and the "Thoreau Quote of the Day" reads as follows: " If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endevours to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

By the time that I found the self portrait, I had already made some major life changes. Now, as I'm quickly approaching forty, I want to take it to the next level. I want to advance confidently in the direction of my dreams. I still worry too much about things that don't really matter, but I'm working on it. I'm still trying to find my life's purpose, but it will come. Someday (hopefully soon), I will look in the mirror and in my reflection, I'll be looking at my nine year old self complete with Dorothy Hamill haircut and glasses. I know she's there just waiting to be rediscovered like the drawing tucked away in a old musty cupboard.
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Hickory Splint said...

Jen-- What a beautiful thoughtful post. As an older woman, looking back on my life, your finding of your childhood portrait and the memories it invoked reminds me of how I felt at your age of 33. For some cultural reason most women go through the loss of self confidence after a carefree childhood. Your determination to go to the next level is both a challenge and a measure of your dicipline. Enjoy the ride! BARBARA

Darcy said...

What a great post! I lost myself around age 12 and it wasn't until I was almost 30 that I started to find me again. I think the demands of school and figuring out a career in my teens and twenties left me little time to reflect.

After leaving my job at 27, I began to have the free time I needed to figure out what my passions were only to find out that they were the same things I loved as a child.

Funny how life can derail us, yet given time and inclination, one can find our purpose once again.

Good luck on your journey!