a letter from my 7-year-old self

Dear 40 year old me,

I just wanted to write to say ‘hi’ and check in with how you’re doing. I’ve noticed recently that I recognise you less than I used to, and I know you’re on this journey to ‘unbecome’ so I wanted to remind you who you used to be before you got old and sensible. I want to remind you who we really are.

We love life – running so fast our legs are on fire, dressing up and acting our plays. We used to make everyone sit down and watch like we were on the stage. Remember the one time we went to the theatre to see ‘Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat’ – it was like heaven and magic. We sat forward on the edge of our seat the whole time with tears in our eyes. So much colour and beauty and song. It was like joy, and we’d never seen anything like it. We loved acting and writing plays and stores – the make-believe was everywhere and we fully embraced it. We knew how to create and we created all the time. Maybe you should remind yourself that magic and heaven can be created whenever you like?

You seem to have forgotten about dressing up and how magical that is for you. You loved colour and twirly dresses and hats and sun glasses. You almost never wore boring clothes, but now you dress like you’re trying to hide. I’m not sure why but I know it’s not us. We wear what brings us joy, what makes us feel alive and fun.

I also want to remind you that you took no nonsense of anyone. Remember the kid who bullied your brother? Remember how you tipped strawberry milk on his head at school and how you clenched your fists in defiance when you got sent to the headteacher for it? You were terrified of being in her office but you knew that no-one messed with your people.

You were always in charge. People said bossy but these days we know when a girl is called ‘bossy’ it just means strong. They didn’t know that then, but now we know. Growing up with three brothers will help you know you’re strong and bold. You can hold your own, you can stand up to bullies. Sometimes it’s okay to clench your fists when you’re in a place that scares you and stand defiantly knowing that this fight is worth it, knowing you have what it takes.

And don’t forget to be silly sometimes. We like being silly . When did you get so serious? Don’t you remember how we used to run and skip and cartwheel EVERYWHERE? Getting places used to be fun! I think you forgot that fun can be found anywhere, in fact we are able to find fun first, even if what we’re supposed to be doing is hard work. We laugh a lot, we play a lot, we’re able to do joy really really well. I think you need to remember this. I think somewhere along the way you lost your joy and stopped finding fun. I’m pretty sure this one is very important.

But I’m pleased you still like writing stories, they’re not bad. And helping people – we always wanted to help make people better, to make the world better. We always wanted to be a mum and you did that super quick! I like that you dance round the kitchen with your kids and chase them round the house to pin them and kiss them. We know how important it is to feel safe and loved. I think you’re a good mum, you do the stuff that really matters. Don’t forget to keep having fun though. Keep playing.

We always liked adventures and seeing new places – you’ve seen so many of the places we wanted to. Although we always wanted to live in a campervan. Maybe next year? Keep going on adventures, go to new places. There’s still so much world to see.

You became the teacher we always wanted to be and you had a job singing which was always our dream. You wrote books – we always said we’d write books… although we thought we’d write stories like CS Lewis – remember Narnia? Maybe try that next?

Anyway, just remember that I’m still in there – the bold, sassy, brave, fist-clenched, joy seeker. I never went anywhere.

And remember to tell your kids what we always wanted to hear: you can do this. Whatever crazy idea they have, just let them know you’ve got them. That you believe in them.

Let’s play again soon,

Helen x

#unbecoming #aletterfrommyself

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