And I don't blame her.
Today at work, between the many ticky-typing finger strokes and mildly concerned "Mmhms" murmured into my headset I had time to consider the following:
My eight year old self is looking up at my 24 year old self and she asks me the two questions that mean the most to her at that age: are you happy? Why or why not?
How funny is it, that in the sixteen years that have lapsed between then and now how little has changed. How intriguing that those are still the same questions I ask myself at least weekly. Does that just mean I'm more in touch with that child-like part of me, or that I've never grown up? Do any of us really ever "grow up" in the sense that we have all our shit together and are fulfilled? Ah, I digress.
If posed that question by my 8 year old self, pushing her glasses up on her nose and watching my face intently, waiting for an answer....what can I tell her?
Yes and no. I don't know. Are those answers good enough for her? Are they good enough for me?
I had a very long day, ticky-typing and "Mmhmm"ing. I had a very long day of researching for primary mental care physicians, and looking into college registration and course work. I had a tiring day of looking at all I've yet to accomplish and trying to convince myself I could do it all. And that's where 8 year old me gets disappointed.
Not at the ticky-typing job. Not at the "mmhms" or the studying and copious amount of information collecting, because even back then, that was pretty much her personality too. No, she's disappointed that I don't believe in me anymore. When did that happen? I used to be able to say, confidently and with a bright, crooked smile, "I can do anything I want." Why can't I say that anymore without tears of frustration and and fear building up behind my composed front?
When posing these questions to myself, for myself, the answers I come up with are so flimsy. Well, y'know, there was working, and depression and bipolar, and more work and bills and...what the hell does any of that mean anyway? Moreover, why do I let that extraneous stuff effect my inner self so much? None of those things, the bills, the work, the stress, none of that defines who I am. Those are all things that I have to handle.
So, today, after work and family time and a little gym time, I decided to make my younger self proud. I decided that "I can do anything" is the way children think (and incredibly hard to live up to), but that "I can do this," is the way a woman thinks and can be as easy as "I can get up and go to work today," or "I can go to school for a degree" or "I can give up McDonalds...but not the fries though (because "fries" was literally my 4th word so...hell no.)."
Today, I looked inside at my younger self and answered with an honest, "Sometimes, but I am trying to make it more like 'most of the time'." And after that I danced around in my boxers to my new favorite song, petted my pet snake George, and resolved that me and younger me, no matter what, were always going to have this symbiosis. Making her happy makes me happy. So if that means dance parties after work, if that means an occasional dinner of ice cream and french fries, if that means taking better care of me and listening to myself more than I do the stresses and the extra stuff...doesn't seem like such a bad compromise.
*inserts disco ball emoji*