What are you supposed to do in life? Ask your eight year old self.

I read an article on holidays about how to work out what you're supposed to do in life. Find your path, so to speak. (It wasn't for my own use, by the way. I'm pretty clear about what I'm doing. It was to help my 15 year old daughter, because I'm a good/awesome mother who thinks for the long term and wants to make sure her kids find useful and interesting careers and move out of home eventually because sometimes you Just Need Space, Okay?)

Anyway, because I was on holidays and reading on a phone which was tiny and disorganised, I cannot possibly find the source of the article now, so you will have to believe me that there were quite a few useful little nuggets of information which of course I would share with you if I could, but it's just not possible right now.

Annnnywaaaaay, once again, the one that jumped out at me (and the only one I can remember) is this: think back to your eight year old self. What did you love? What were you passionate about? Would your eight year old self cry if he or she knew what you ended up doing?

It made a lot of sense. In a 'normal' life with reasonable parents and okayish circumstances, eight is probably the age where you really start to become good at stuff, where you start to understand that people have dreams for the future, and what your dreams might be. Eight is when you can try things out, get lost in your own imagination and follow your passions without having to do this, do that, follow those rules and finish your homework!

I'll be honest. The things I loved when I was eight are the things I still love now. The person I was at eight is probably closest to my most honest 41-year old self.

What did I love? Making things! I was crazy for paint and scissors and cloth and glue. My poor un-crafty mother was constantly bombarded with requests of 'please can we try this project' from the one craft book we owned. (Thankfully it was part of a set of Childcraft books, or it may have found itself decluttered...) Eight was when I first decided that my lifelong ambition was to be a writer. It's stayed with me, burning deep inside, ever since. I also adored reading, singing, music, dancing, swimming and the beach, cooking and eating brownies and anything where my brain was stretched in exciting directions. Oh, and dolls. I was crazy for dolls. Dressing them, sewing clothes for them, playing with them, making houses for them.

Actually, I made houses wherever I went and out of whatever I could find. I drew house plans in the sand at the beach, made rooms out of bushes and trees in the forest, created households with chess pieces (I wasn't very good at chess) and built little homes for the boys' lego figures. They've got to have somewhere to go when they're not in space or out at sea, right?

And nothing has changed. I'm a home-body through and through. Nothing makes me happier than a good mini reno project. Nothing clears my mind like making and finishing a quilt. I read. I play music. I stretch my brain. I'm writing. Maybe the only thing that's different is that I don't need dolls anymore. I've got heaps of kids instead.

Perhaps the thing that's missing from my life is dancing. (Heaven knows it's not eating brownies. I have plenty of that in my life.) But I have plans to remedy the lack of heel and toe action. As soon as my kids are old enough to leave on their own at night, I'm dressing up in sequins and buying those skin coloured shoes with heels and straps and dragging my husband out to ballroom dancing lessons. Haw haw. He doesn't know about it yet. But he'll come. I know he'll come....

So if you're youngish (or just confused and in a mid-life crisis) and looking for a path into the future, think back to when you were eight. What did you love and why did you love it? How can you find a way to express that passion as a grown up?

Because you don't want to make your eight year old self cry.


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