Who were you as a child?
In one of her interviews, I recall therapist Marissa Peer saying that the best way to figure out what you’re passionate about is to revisit your interests that you had as a child, especially before the age of 7.
Do you remember what you spent most of your time doing as a child?
Here’s my story. I grew up being obsessed with Barbie. Typical, I know. But here’s the twist to it. I would create a new story every week, turn each of my dolls into a new character and have an entire screenplay based on these characters. They would get new outfits for each story, which I designed and stitched myself (all thanks to my mom’s leftover fabrics from her dresses, skirts and saree blouses). So, I guess my love for storytelling, sarees and creative projects came from childhood. This also stemmed from my fascination with movies as well (Rajinikanth FTW!) And fast forward to my interests today, most of them revolve around very similar categories. Photography gave me the opportunity to create concepts for shoots and assist with creating looks for each model. And wanting to be a storyteller inspired my journey with Palm Roots, where I share stories of Thamizhs living in North/East Sri Lanka at my auction, here in Toronto. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by individuals with similar creative interests as me so our conversations usually revolve around topics such as movies, creative direction, fashion, dance and all types of arts.
Where did your interests lie as a child? What were your favorite hobbies? What made you the happiest? Are those interests similar to the career fields you’ve chosen now? We are constantly told that finding our passion will help us figure out the best career path for us but I believe that our passion can be a part of our life as hobbies or side-jobs too. The older we get, the more responsibilities we have, which at times makes us focus on careers that provide better financial benefits and stability rather than those that revolve around our passion - and that's totally fine! But, it's so important to simultaneously work on your interests that make you genuinely happy and follow your dreams no matter how challenging it gets. Remind yourself of how happy it makes you and always find a way to work towards achieving it.
If you end up choosing to pursue your passion as a career, make sure that it can guarantee you a source of income and if not find a backup plan that provides an income while you pursue your passion projects. Your passion will always keep you happy - only if you let go of the stress over financial freedom.
As we learnt from the movie Soul (please watch it if you haven’t yet!) passion ignites our soul. It keeps our inner child alive and gives us the ability to experience genuine happiness in the little things everyday! So take some time to write down what you were interested in as a child or what you enjoyed doing. Find ways to revisit these interests and you will find that it can help us reconnect with the forgotten, younger version of ourselves that still lives within us and wants our attention.
This process of reconnection can serve two purposes - it will allow you to recollect the activities that once made you happy, alive and excited. On the other hand, it can remind us of wounds from our childhood if we felt we didn’t receive the nurture/care we needed or had to take on responsibilities at a young age, causing us to become an adult way before we were mentally prepared to be one.
I’m aware that this might be a sensitive topic to some of you but if you spend a little time reflecting on something you craved as a child, whether it was love, affection, attention or even words of support that you may not have received as expected, you can find ways to heal that missing part of your soul now as an adult. So give yourself what you didn't receive as a child. What we didn’t receive as a child is what we seek in others as an adult. But the truth is, the only places we will be able to receive that from is within ourselves and from a higher source; not from other people. Each person is going through their own journey of figuring out what they need in life. So expecting someone else to fill what’s missing within us will lead to constantly feeling like something’s missing in our life. Comes back to what we hear often - we can't feel complete with someone if we don’t feel complete within ourselves first.
Hence why it’s so necessary to find little things that you loved doing as a child and incorporate that into your life now, to ensure that the little version of you gets everything they did not receive AND the best part is that they will receive it from you! This builds up the confidence in you to feel complete and whole as a person.
If you observe our parents' generation or the one before, many of them experienced the consequences of the civil war, poverty, displacement etc which forced them to switch from their child-like nature and take on an “adult” mindset and responsibilities at a young age. Therefore, they had to let go of their childhood dreams to focus on finances for the family to survive. And that carried on to their adult lives, forcing them to choose work as a priority and emphasize the importance of financial stability over artistic interests. This is also why they may initially disapprove of your interest in pursuing the arts over any other field that provides stability. It stems from fear of instability that they experienced and wouldn’t want to see us going through today. But, just because it’s something they went through, it doesn’t necessarily apply to you (this applies to any experience your parents warn you about... just saying!). If you keep believing in yourself, continue to pursue your passion and show your consistency with it, they will trust that you will find stability and stop being worried so much! :)
As psychologist Dr. Stephen Diamond states “To become adults, we’ve been taught that our inner child - representing our child-like capacity for innocence, wonder, awe, joy, sensitivity and playfulness must be stifled, quarantined or even killed.” Once we become “adults” we are forced to let go of certain aspects of ourselves that are more associated with children including our innocence and sensitivity in order to ‘grow up’ and handle things in a mature manner.
But connecting with our inner child reignites the excitement we once left behind and helps us take care and heal issues that we may have faced as a child. And this process is insanely beneficial to creating more happiness and peace. This is why we often hear sayings like "work hard, play hard." The 'play' aspect translates to things the child version of you would love to do.
Maintaining that peaceful relationship with your inner child and giving the younger version of yourself the assurance that regardless of what we faced during our childhood or what restrictions were placed on our interests, we are doing well now as an adult and have the freedom to pursue our artistic aspirations or childhood dreams will awaken that child within you, which is so beneficial to your overall happiness!
So what are you doing to keep your inner child happy? :)
PS - if you would like to learn more about healing your inner child, I would suggest reading the references below or seek sources who have researched this for decades. Seeking a therapist who focuses on inner child healing is highly recommended as well.
Diamond, Stephen. “Essential Secrets of Psychotherapy : The Inner Child.” Psychology Today, Sussex Publishers, 7 June 2008, www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/evil-deeds/200806/essential-secrets-psychotherapy-the-inner-child.
Raypole, Crystal. “8 Ways to Start Healing Your Inner Child.” Healthline, , July 8, 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/inner-child-healing#listen