Do you remember yourself as a child? Were you inquisitive? Did you like to sit quietly in a corner reading? Were you shy or outspoken? Did you like adventure or prefer to cosy up to mum or dad? Did you like cooking, gardening, watching TV, or inventing? What did you most like?
I was a very inquisitive child and a real show off. I also led as the eldest of my siblings. I loved to explore and to experiment. I had led us all through dangerous exploits.
For those not aware, I was born in the UK, brought up in Nigeria and came back to the UK as an adult. It gave me the unique perspective that I now share with you.
As a 9-year-old, I remember once leading my gang of siblings and friends into a carpenter’s unlocked workshop and nearly getting us electrocuted in the process! I was scolded and punished and felt bad for a bit.
I remember playing by myself in a wood behind our home in the town of Ibadan and although it was lonely, it was fun.
I cannot forget the day a worker drowned in a huge fish pond owned by an eccentric landlord. That night, I imagined seeing the ‘ghost’ of the worker flying through the window to get me.
It was an interesting childhood and I can tell you at a now mature age that the imaginative and adventurous child is still in me.
Do you remember yourself as a child?
In the Netherlands, children do not start formal learning till the age of 6. They are taught to learn through play. If you have children, younger siblings, nieces, nephews, friend’s children, take a little time to study them. You will see how raw and true children are.
We are meant to gently guide them and reinforce positive behaviour whilst discouraging negative ones. Most African parents do not have the time for this, so there is outright punishment for bad behaviour.
Sometimes, they are impatient and insensitive to the traits or talents shown by a child. However, some parents do get it right and develop an intuitive understanding of their children. But this article is not about parenthood.
It is a pity that the overriding message from society is to conform, and very few of us defy this. I say this because most millennials and Gen X (google this if you don’t know this terms) are defying conformity and forging their own paths by marching to the beatings of their drums.
So, how did I find my authentic self?
I decided a couple of years after I came back to Britain that I wanted to be a writer. To my friends, it was not surprising. It was more of ‘eccentric’ Stella doing it again.
I gave myself a 5-year plan and did forge ahead to write a novel which is still hiding in a folder somewhere in my computer but my crime genre one that I wrote years later was shortlisted for a Literary Prize in 2016!
I had done 4 years out of the 5 when the drive to get an extra degree, marry, and have children took over! That has taken many years till now. I am now back to that self.
If you are still at a point where you feel down, unhappy, and unfulfilled, perhaps you still have your authentic self-hidden away. It is never too late to go back and rediscover that self. Give that child a chance and don’t feel ridiculous doing it.
Nurture that You. As a Christian, I do mine through prayer and reading the bible. It gives me peace to have that relationship with God and aligns me with the world and its creation.
This is not always perfect but it is how I rediscovered the authentic me. Walking through the road to self-discovering is not always an easy one. Perhaps you have a different way, but the most important thing is to be in touch with the child in you.