Once upon a time in psychology class, my professor told us that most human beings know what they want to become by age 8. Not only that, it isn't just a knowing, it is something that people tend to come back to if they stray from that pure, focused child's dream as they grow up. Our professor gave examples of bankers, teachers, and pilots who retired early and were drawn back to the profession of their youthful dreams.
If I had to guess, I would imagine that most people picture their "inner child" as a 7 or 8 year old. This child knows enough to be hurt really badly and carry some terrible wounds, but also is able to see the world with glasses traced with divinity so goodness and hope can still prevail. This child knows the key to your happiness. This child sees very clearly.
The thing is, most people do not listen to their inner children and even worse, they don't even believe in that child anymore. I don't think you have to be a person of any particular faith to understand that this is a sad phase for the human experience. The purest part of who you are never goes away, this child is always with you, always waiting for you to love it.
As adults, it is important to spend some time with your inner child just like a child would love for his/her parents to spend some time with them. Your inner child wants you to protect it, love it, comfort it and listen to it. Seeing that you mean to hold it in this way, it might even share some truth with you that you have long forgotten. However, this language probably makes you a little uncomfortable, doesn't it?
What I am talking about is honoring who you are and remembering where you came from. I do not mean compartmentalizing your life story, but claiming it as a whole. I am me, adult, child, daughter, wife, girl...I am all of those people right now. I am talking about spending some time each day with your own thoughts, your dreams, your imagination. Allowing yourself space to literally imagine your life differently and see what fruit comes of that. Children give themselves time to play, to rest, to create. We don't often give ourselves these life essentials. I think this is why your 8-year-old self probably knew you a little better than you do now. I know mine does.
A couple months ago, I found a report I wrote about myself. It was from second grade and I listed myself as "8-year-old Claire". I was tickled by all the observations I made and the descriptions I had of my life and my family during that time. What struck me most was the very last line. It was a bit out of place, but it shook me.
"When I grow up I want to be an artist."
Since I read that line I have not been able to shake it. I do want to become an artist. I have viewed everything I enjoy as art for so long that I have forgotten that I could still focus my energy in the direction of actually becoming one. 8-year-old Claire believed this was possible. Adult Claire hears the world's labels, the "starving artists", and sees so many too scared to try or too good to focus. Will I choose to believe that I am an artist? Will I choose to step into that fate chosen by my purest self? I would like to try.
I have started painting everyday and slowly I am building up an inventory of what I like to call "Painted Prayers". I have begun selling them on Etsy and would love for you to check them out. I am starting small and dreaming big. I hope you will revisit your 8-year-old dreams too and see what sprouts from that fertile soil. You might just find that happiness awaits you there.