Whom does your 8-year-old self need?

For when you feel stuck in a comparison rut.

If you too compare yourself to others, read this.

“Be who you needed when you were younger.”

This quote got stuck in my head, I don’t know when, but it got stuck there as all things that resonate with me do.

Do you remember who you’d have loved to have by your side as a child? As a teen? I mean, the kind of real-life, adult-size role models you wished having? I do, and it makes me laugh now to remember (more on that later), because what I wished for was a badass cousin.

  • A cousin à la girl gang, with the leather jacket and the cool motorbike.
  • A cousin who didn’t tolerate gender stereotypes and had no expectations about what I should do or be except for being happy.
  • A cousin who encouraged me to write, to stand up for myself, to explore all my potential.
  • A cousin who brought me around and away from home just to get ice cream on the street and see the mountains.
  • A cousin whom everyone thought “crazy”.
  • A cousin who lived, unabashedly.

In short, that “somebody” I needed was someone who would never conform to what others expected of her. Who I needed was not a perfect somebody, but somebody who had a clear vision of both her strengths and weaknesses, used the former to change the world and didn’t let the latter make her feel ashamed of herself.

Who I needed was a mythical creature, telling me that some things were possible.

Because without that somebody, I grew up believing that…

… in real life, girls have to act nice and shut the **** up.
… in real life, shy girls will always lose at life.
… in real life, a girl who does well in school cannot be a rebel.
… in real life, everything’s a competition and you have to be in the Top Ten. Possibly, at the first place.

Luckily, life crushed those beliefs for me. And it hurt, because I felt alone. Because again, no one was there to tell me that it’s okay, don’t worry, the world won’t end. I’ve got you.

That’s why it lights me up with joy to realize that… I’m becoming that cousin.

Mind you – I don’t have a motorbike. (Yet. The leather jacket is covered, though.) I am still working on that “crazy” reputation. I am struggling, like everyone else. But…

I look at myself with the eyes of that eight-year-old self, and this is what I see.

I see a cousin who writes for work and for passion.
Who does stage fight as a hobby.
Who creates cool stuff with her hands.
Who was shy as hell and yet traveled alone throughout Scotland for one month as her first solo trip.
Who perhaps doesn’t say, “Fuck the system!” out loud, but does it with placing boundaries, saying “no,” and showing that you can be kind and strong at the same time.
Who lived through her depression and learned from it.
Who believes words can change the world and is utterly determined to make it a better place for everyone.

I see, too, that this cousin fucks up accents like me, doesn’t always remember first names, and still confuses left and right.
I see that she’s an introvert, but has learned how to turn her nature into a strength.
I see a cousin who gets insanely excited about tv shows and video games, to the point of filling her Facebook with memes and Tumblr posts about them for months before switching to something new.
I see a multipotentialite cousin with an infinite amount of curiosity, someone who rarely works on the same thing for more than one month, but who nonetheless can get down to business and claw her way through projects she believes in.
I see someone who isn’t perfect, but would have told me that I was perfect just the way I am.

And, as that eight-year-old self, I’m unbelievably happy to have this version of me by my side.

I’m happy to have that eight-year-old self by my side too.

Because she has shown me that there is only one person I should compare myself to, and that is my past self. If that past self is happy with whom I’m becoming, then I am on the right path.

So, if you ever feel stuck in a comparison rut, maybe ask yourself – would my child self be proud of me? Am I becoming who I needed when I was younger?


P.S. Who are your childhood heroes?

Do you have thoughts or doubts bothering you? Do you just want to vent? Ask Box is the place where you can drop your questions about life, the universe and everything. My inbox is always open – email me at theinneratlas@yahoo.com.

{Original picture: Annie Spratt via Magdeleine}

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