Sometimes it helps to look at old pictures. To see the little kid I once was. It’s funny… because I can remember being her. I can remember looking in a mirror and seeing that face looking back at me.
Even though that little girl has left. And all there is now is me. Whatever grew and evolved from that sweet smiling ball of potential.
That little kid is absolutely adorable. Looking at photographs of her now, I can see no faults in her. But I remember at the time seeing mostly faults. Seeing what was wrong with my face, my hair. What was wrong with everything.
And I can remember well-meaning adults pointing out my flaws constantly, too. Likely so I could fix them. Grow into a more socially acceptable adult.
At the time I didn’t understand that though. At the time I thought I was the only one being told what was wrong with me. And that this was because I had somehow failed to be normal. To be accepted.
I took everything so personally then. A really sensitive child.
And sometimes I think if those well-meaning adults could have felt the pain I felt when they made those well-meaning corrections and if they felt how seriously I took them — how personally I felt them — they would have still made them, but more softly. And less often.
But they didn’t.
“You look absolutely fine to me,” I tell the little girl in the photos. Even the ones where her hair is a mess. Where she has a lock of two out of place. The ones where she’s smiling so hard, her eyes are squeezed closed. Where her dress is wrinkled. Her hands are dirty.
“You were a good kid. You were a free spirit,” I say.
And as I do, it occurs to me that I should give my adult self the same compassion that’s so easy to give the beautiful child in these photos.