You’re Just a Kid: A Lesson on Why You Shouldn't Be So Hard On Yourself
From the moment you picked up your phone, to open that app, to see my promotional post, that led you to the link, that got you to read this article, everything was new. In fact, just 20(+) years ago, none of the latter mentioned were even in existence. No links, blog posts, Instagram, smartphones… nothing.
I know it may sound like I’m getting all Neil DeGrasse Tyson with y’all today but just work with me.
For the last couple of weeks, more specifically, when I turned 25, I’ve had times to sit and reflect on the pressing reality that at the ripe age of 25, I am still just a kid. A kid that has been forced into adulthood and told to “figure it out” with the experiences and limited resources she’s been given.
I mean sure, I’m "grown" in the technical sense of the word, but midway through my gleaming exterior is a little girl trying to fill too big shoes, dressed in some adult’s hand-me-downs, trying not to get called out as an imposter.
And nobody reminds me of this more than my 2-year-old niece.
My entire outlook on life shifted the moment she was born. In a weird way, it was kind of like we were growing up together. When she was born, I was 3 months post-grad, beginning my new life out of the comforts of my college campus. I had new responsibilities and a job (I hated) that I needed to report to that wasn’t even in the field I had spent 3 ½ years earnestly pursuing a degree for. She too was new to this world, learning its ways outside of the shelter that was her mother’s womb.
My niece began to walk right around the same time that I was finding my footing in the mind-bending universe that is New York City. I was stumbling to make ends meet, each day having to decide if it would be my groceries or toiletries that received my monetary attention. I fell down more times than I could count, as I’m sure my niece did too while trying to find her stride. But with the help of my father and sister, her grandfather and mother, we found our way.
But now? This little firecracker of a child is a whole 2 1/2 years old. She formulating sentences, walks and runs with confidence and speed, and has an impressive hold on what she does and doesn’t like by simply stating, “I dun't wann it.” In a way, there are times where I feel like she's further along in finding out who she is than I am at 23 years her senior.
Still, I can’t help but wonder if she’d still be as far along as she is if the people raising her were as hard on her as I am on myself sometimes.
There are moments when I get so far gone into an abyss of thoughts that say “you’re not good enough” and “just give it up” that I forget my way out. I tell myself that I’m not working hard enough, that I could be doing more if I had x or more of y and z. I get discouraged when posts don’t do as well as another, or when I can’t make it to certain local events to network because I don’t have transportation. You name it and I’ve probably thought it.
But the one thought that draws me back to reality is this: I’ve never done this before.
I’ve never ran a blog for almost five years until this very moment. I’ve never been an unemployed, college graduate that had to move back home after independently living in New York City for a year and a half until this summer. I’ve never been trying to build an online presence and spark influence by myself until today. So if I’m learning to walk and find my way just like any 1, 2, 3-year-old child has to, why don’t I treat myself with the same empathy, grace, and compassion as I would show that baby?
You’ve never done any of this before either. Like, any of it. This is all new, every part of it: the trials, the triumphs, the lessons, the people... all of this is new.
What if I yelled at my niece every time she stumbled when she was trying to walk? What if I told her she’d never get it right every time she mispronounced a word?
She would probably be too afraid to get up and try again because trying would lead to chastisement and who would want to make another attempt if that’s what it would lead to? If you ask me, that’s what a lot of us are doing to ourselves when we make a mistake, trip, or do something that turns out unsuccessful. We go so hard on ourselves that we’re too afraid to even try again, but we have to. Our growth and development depend on how many times we’re able to get up after we get knocked down by life.
So, to you who's reading this, whether you’re a 22-year-old college senior months away from embarking on your post-college journey, or a 25-year-old wondering what’s next, be kinder than you feel to yourself. Give yourself a hug. And when you fall, be sure to look down for the lessons you need to pick up and take them with you for the rest of the journey. You're gonna need'em.