Who were you at 10 years old?
Years ago, my younger nephew asked me this question as a part of a school assignment in learning how to interview people. Recently, the question came up again in a reflection on growing old. The exercise was useful to me because I had been letting numbers (age, the scale) put self-imposed limits on my activities and dreams.
I also realized that apart from three cousins, there is only one lifelong friend who knew me when we were both 10. My sister is eight years younger than I am, so she would not have known me until a few years later. With other lifelong friends, we go back to 14 years old.
So, who was this 10-year-old Doris?
I played “cowgirl”, but not “cowboy.” I can’t remember ever wanting to be a boy – I was never a tomboy – but cowgirl was my version of adventurous. I loved the fringed vest and skirt, the boots, the hat, and wearing a cap gun in a holster. I think that Dale Evans was my hero. Mind you, I grew up in the city and have never ridden a horse! You may recall in a previous post on this blog how delighted I was to learn about The National Cowgirl Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas!
I liked my own company, and didn’t always wait for others to do things or go places. I would take my dolls in a stroller to a park three blocks away, bringing a snack along in case we were there for a while. It was safe then to do this. I remember once meeting a girl my age named “Doris.” Later, in the fall, we met again when she was a new student at my school.
I was chubby and slightly overweight, according to height/weight charts. However, I don’t remember being obsessed about my size. Only the numbers on the scale at school and clothing size tags sometimes bothered me when others found out about them.
I loved being on the stage . . . performing for an audience . . . being recognized and admired. I performed in two dance recitals and several annual piano recitals. I remember thinking that these piano recitals must be the height of my mother’s social outings! Years, later, when I was in high school and my sister was in a recital with the same piano teacher, I asked my mother if all my own recitals had been like this one. She simply smiled and said: “Yes, all of them.” So, not the height of the social season!
My favorite pastimes included jumping rope, playing hide-and-seek, role playing as a teacher or librarian or office manager, drawing and coloring, and swimming at the nearby indoor city pool. If I were to describe myself as a 10-year-old, I might say that I was outgoing and active and perceived no boundaries. My parents always made me feel that I could do anything. I wanted to excel at everything I did, so I probably did not take risks with activities that I could not do well. Team sports come to mind.
What parts of 10-year-old Doris can I retrieve, now that I am six decades older?
I can be a “cowgirl” – in spirit and attitude.
I can again enjoy going places on my own.
I can be happy with my body as it is and not obsess about numbers.
I am still a teacher, librarian, and office organizer.
I can amuse myself with drawing, coloring, painting, and photographing.
I could swim regularly – if I had more discipline!
I can push boundaries and my own self-imposed limits — within reason.
I can spend time reading and making jigsaw puzzles without feeling guilty that I should be doing something more productive!
What about you? Have you been able to retrieve a younger self years after you thought she or he had disappeared?