Adulting: Great Expectations or Humbug?

The Holidays are around the corner, causing many people to introspect on the months passed with a sense of anxiety and great sadness. One reason behind the melancholy is our tendency to focus on what we don’t have, what we should have, and what we thought we would have by now in our lives. This can be deeply overwhelming, and emotionally dysregulating, perhaps even causing us to question who we are and our capacity to build the life we visualized for ourselves. In many cases, this magic life we are awaiting was imagined by our child selves, long ago, without a clear plan of how it would manifest into reality. My child self always believed that things would just arrive so to speak….without much effort from me. Later, on the skirts of adulthood,  my much more mature self believed that hard work always assured a perfect outcome. It’s what I was taught. Humbug!

Sometimes our child selves have great intentions…and great expectations. Children dream after all. We push them to believe in themselves often forgetting to mention that life has hurdles and traumas….or if we come from a family where encouragement was not available, we may create our own dreams of permanent safety and security, with life having its own surprises. Perhaps safety and security were never a dream or expectation, and so we don’t believe they’re attainable. It is also vital to mention our indoctrination into societal and familial expectations, which may keep us away from what we really want.

When we allow our child selves to dictate where we should be in life, we are being terribly unfair to our adult selves who have had to face challenges along the way around creating the safety we hoped for. We are also being unfair to our child selves, as these parts should not be expected to map out the life of an adult. When we look around through the eyes of our inner children, we may see joy and happiness in everyone’s lives but ours. We judge what we see, and ourselves, feeling ashamed or embarrassed at not having achieved certain outcomes by a certain time.  A sense of helplessness and failure ensues.

If this speaks to you, I ask that you get honest with yourself around all that stood in the way of getting to where you hoped you would be…without judgment. Life is what it is and you did the best you could. If you could do things differently, what would that have looked like and can this be implemented now? What type of support do you require around it? Also, look at all the things you have achieved, some of which you might not have planned, as we tend to overlook all accomplishments that were not on our childhood wish list.  It is also imperative to understand that life does not follow a step by step pattern. Life is messy and chaotic, its trajectory often interrupted by illness, unemployment, old traumas arising, and new traumas etc. Don’t get me wrong, we all have to take responsibility for our part (just our part, not that of others) in the stuckness we experience, so we can heal and move in the right direction, but we must do this with kindness and understanding.

I have realized in my own healing journey that focussing on what I don’t have rather than what I do have is an insult to the work I have put into my life thus far. I now also know that what life has kept from me did not serve the person I was becoming. It served the person I once was and would have therefore stifled my growth.  My patience and painful experiences allowed for opportunities to present themselves that opened up the world in ways my child self never imagined. I firmly believe that when we open ourselves to healing, we open our world, shifting the lens we see our circumstances through. This is a job for the adult in us….not the child self.  The adult in us needs to nurture and foster childhood dreams, understanding that sometimes time takes its time and it takes the right place in life to receive what we wish for. We also need to know what to let go of, what to move towards and what is more appropriate for us now. Our child selves do not know how to make such calculations, so the adults in us must step in.

This Holiday Season, get in touch with the adult in you, while hearing the needs of the  inner child, and merge both. Use your wisdom to figure out what to work towards in 2017 and what to leave behind in 2016. Most importantly, know that good things are yet to arrive, even if they are outside the time frame of your child self. Take your inner child by the hand, and walk with them into a life that is right for you now. Show them the beautiful and amazing adult that they have become.