I saw a meme this morning that asked a version of this question (substituting little girl for child and woman for person) in the title of this article. I enjoy looking back down my timeline and can easily recall childhood experiences. I even realized back then how blessed I was to have been born into a family in which love virtually oozed from the walls of our home where everyone was welcome. Our friends were frequent visitors and extended family and family of choice were there for cookouts, Thanksgiving dinners and Passover seders. It didn’t occur to me to imagine what adulthood would look like except that somewhere along the line, it would involve a career and a family of my own. It wasn’t until I was in my Senior year of high school that I decided to study Psychology. Back then, in the 1970s, career choices for women were limited and usually involved teaching, nursing or secretarial work. I didn’t know any female doctors or psychologists. I just sensed that it would be a good path since I liked figuring out what made people tick and I was the go-to person for advice and a listening ear among my friends. With a BA in Psychology under my belt, I continued working for a few years at a crisis intervention center where I had volunteered while in college. It was my first boots on the ground experience of offering counseling to folks in need. I cringe at what I didn’t know back then that only after decades of study and practical application I have gleaned.
The woman I am now has lived through love and loss…a lot of both. It was the love of family, friends and partners which sustained me through illness, and ectopic pregnancy, hospitalizations, widowhood, single parenting, the deaths of my parents and a few close friends, job changes, financial challenges, emotional upheaval, and an act of nature called Hurricane Andrew that pummeled our house in Homestead, Florida in 1992 and brought us back to Pennsylvania. I call these the ‘if not for’ aspects of my life. If not for these events, I would not be where I am in my life now. I do wish there had been easier and more graceful ways of evolving.
The woman I am now has pursued various career paths and writes to her heart’s delight.
The woman I am now developed a sense of social conscience as a result of my parents’ volunteer endeavors and my own when I joined the Ecology Club in school and volunteered at the local recycling center. My interest in social justice grew in college and I found myself over the years, marching for the Equal Rights Amendment, No Nukes, LGBTQ+ Rights, Environmental Protection, Gun Control, Humane Immigration Policies, and Peace. Being surrounded by kindred spirits bolstered me when I was tempted to succumb to hopelessness that any positive change could come about. I now know that combined efforts yield powerful results.
The woman I am now is more comfortable with stillness and silence when once she was high energy, a co-dependent people pleaser who would charm people rather than simply being genuine. My communication is clear, concise and assertive, rather than tiptoeing around a challenging issue for fear of rocking the boat.
The woman I am now was, prior to the pandemic, a social butterfly who would flit, here, there and everywhere. My wings have temporarily folded as I take pleasure in my own company.
The woman I am now, who had self doubts, now radiates genuine confidence and a sense of self worth that is not always based on the perception of others.
The woman I am now can look back and assure that girl that I was, that everything would turn out well and that her out of the box imagination would serve her well personally and professionally.
The little girl I was then is reflected in the playful adult I became. I color, play with PlayDoh, blow bubbles, sing silly songs and splash in puddles; all of these things with or without my grandchildren.
The little girl that I was would be delighted that the woman I am, cherishes and respects her and what it took to get from black patent leather shoes and frilly dresses to (at the moment), long, flowing purple hair, leggings and a tie dye sweatshirt that reads BE KIND. She would like that I am looking out for my grandchildren and the generations that follow by continuing to focus on social justice. She would be grateful that I carry her with me in my heart and am grateful that she grew up to be me… curious, creative and colorful.
This Post is republished on Medium.
Photo credit: iStock