Inspired by this post by Melissa. A reflective question: what would your 8-year-old self think of your life today? I started responding as a comment, but then decided to hijack it because…
My Lord, how different my life is than I could have imagined. I never tried to imagine it…
My 8-year-old self didn’t have much concept of a future. Her idea of the future was wearing a white dress to the grade 7 ‘prom’ which we had in South-Africa. I can remember how it looked in my fantasy: off-white, with tied spaghetti straps and simple and sweet. She just went to school, did art and drama, wore glasses, did Voortrekkers (like scouting but SA style) and read too many books. I had read all the Secret Seven and Famous Five books by the time I was 8, along with most of Saartjie and Trompie… (Afrikaans children’s books). I’d even read Oliver Twist when I was 8 or 9… I was a curious girl who knew a lot and learned even more. I loved planes after I went on one, thought it would be amazing to be a pilot but knew it wasn’t for people with glasses. If people asked me what I wanted to be I said a professor like my dad -not that I really knew what he did, it just sounded interesting- or a teacher like my mum. The latter was the least favourite option because I had teachers myself and it wasn’t very cool to be one. I hadn’t thought about it, really. (I only thought about it when I had to apply for university!)
My 8-year-old self didn’t know I’d be a C-cup when I was 13, making the spaghetti straps a bit more complicated if you’re the only one who can’t get away without a bra any more.
I suppose my 8-year-old self saw herself pretty much going along with the groove of life, growing up, going to uni, getting married, getting a job, having babies… She didn’t really think of happiness, happiness isn’t something given much attention where she grew up. She expected to grow up into the wind and grind of adulthood she saw around her, perhaps she imagined a sort of importance. She was taught to work hard, and that she needed to take care of her family one day so she needed to do well in school to get a good job. My 8-year-old self was fascinated by stories about children elsewhere, but never imagined she’d be one of them.
I don’t know what she’d think of my current life. I think it would open a whole new world for her, to be honest. She was raised in a very Christian world. I’m not sure what she’d think of me living together ‘in sin’ and possibly having a baby out of wedlock even some day. I’m living together with a non-believer. When I was 8, I thought everyone believed in God. I think that would have been a bit tough for her to grasp. Also interesting: he’s Tall, Dark and Handsome. And Spanish.. Sounds a bit like a prince from a fairy tale! (Except that his white horse is a broken white bicycle and his castle is an apartment, but we can still hold the ‘happily ever after’ option open).
She would be thrilled to know I’m no longer cross-eyed and don’t need glasses!! Also she would be happy to know she was more or less right about her hair turning brown when she grew up. She’d be really devastated about missing out on the grade 7 dance though. We moved to Holland just before I turned 12.She’d hate Holland. Too cold.
I am also not sure what she’d think of me not being thrilled about my job all the time. “But you’re a DOCTOR”. Yes, it’s not all that you think it is. It’s what I do, and not who I am. I help people, yes, and I can pay my half of his mortgage with it. I am more than my job, my life is more than my job. I think, if I went back in time and I told her this, she’d make different choices throughout her life.
My 8-year-old self could never imagine growing up into the current me.
Yet, if she knew, I could never imagine what she’d make out of my life.