Our Three-Year-Old Self
Do you remember yourself at three? While it’s easy to dismiss our three-year-old self as a mere child, he or she held great wisdom. Unconditioned by the world, we weren’t concerned about pleasing others or being politically correct. We had no desire to conform. Quite the opposite. Instead, our little girl or boy showed up as who we truly are—an uninhibited soul who shines brightly and speaks their truth.
I recently began to explore my inner child, the three-year-old me I’d ignored for years. But first I had to find her. After searching through photos, I found a fading picture of me. Wearing a red checkered two-piece bathing suit, I smiled as if I hadn’t a care in the world. My eyes shone brightly, and my little belly proudly puckered out. I was at ease with who I was, and I was not afraid for the world to see me.
Fast forward fifty-six years … is that who I am now? Most certainly not. But in some ways, I wish I were.
Pausing to examine our tiny selves allows us to remember our forgotten pieces. Combining memories and repeated stories, I can envision a confident child, unafraid of anything or anyone. She had no hesitation approaching strangers with cameras to ask them to take her picture. And she wasn’t afraid to say or do what was on her mind—she never considered her words or actions might offend. She spoke when she had something to say, and she had a vivid imagination. But never tell her something wasn’t real. Because to her, it was.
Was she that different from me?
Maybe not at the core. But over the years, I’ve created layers to protect her. Social norms, among other things, taught me what is and is not acceptable. I suppose I had to do something to stop her uninhibited spirit. Because if I didn’t, she’d get hurt. And so, I squelched my true nature to be safe and fit in.
But now, as I’m approaching sixty, I’m beginning to rethink a few things. Less concerned about appearances and making others happy, I’m becoming more curious, dare I even say adventurous? Maybe it’s high time to ask my little girl to come out and show me how to play. After all, isn’t that what three-year-olds do best?
Somewhere between the time of kindergarten and becoming a full-fledge adult, many of us abandon our inner child. We have too much to do, too many places to be, too much to achieve. However, did any of that matter to our little child? Mine just wanted to play, create, build, dream.
While we can’t remain children forever, it’s important not to forget about who we once were. Sadly, there are many people who weren’t afforded the privilege to be little. Instead, they faced traumas and took on responsibilities meant for adults. But maybe we can all go back to some point in time and ask …
Who were our friends?
What did we like?
How did we view the world around us?
What made us happy?
What caused us sadness?
What do we remember most?
Taking the time to consider these questions can offer great insight into our truth. It may even allow us to identify those missing pieces, the ones we let go of as we grew up.
Truthfully, I’m fascinated by my three-year-old self. And the more time I spend with her, the easier it is to step out of my comfort zone. She gives me courage and helps me laugh at myself. In fact, I think she even makes writing easier by urging me to use my imagination, something she always did with ease.
Whether a personality trait, a hobby, or an aspiration, consider exploring your inner child and observe who you once were. Identify something you’ve discarded, reclaim it, and find a way to add it back into your life.
“We nurture our creativity when we release our inner child. Let it run and roam free.
It will take you on a brighter journey.” ― Serina Hartwell