8 years old was a time to be a girl. At 8 I was fearless with my smile, that I hadn't quite grown into, and wildly in love with the world I knew. I liked my shaggy short hair and oversized sweatshirts, because I hadn't yet been taught that I shouldn't like ME.
This last weekend my mom and I were on a long road trip and I was telling her how precious I felt being 8 was. This conversation had been brought up because I had seen a picture of a few 8 year old girls at camp on my friends instagram, and it made me smile because I remembered being that age. Everything was pure and good.
In my experiences I had a lot of little moments that impacted my understanding of my worth, that changed me from being the fearless girl I was at 8. I can still remember/hold onto times of being that fearless age. One particular memory is walking up a hill to my parents house from the store, and feeling the unyielding summer sun beat down on my back. I simply sat down for a break and broke open a watermelon I had bought with money my Nan had given me for a snack. I sat on the hill and watched cars drive by as I dug into the tastey watermelon with my hands. When I think of that memory I don't remember having any care about what anyone who drove by thought of me- sitting by the road eating watermelon and making a mess with the juices running down my arm and onto my clothes. I'm not saying as an adult I'm totally envious of being able to sit down and eat watermelon in the middle of town on a hot day- or maybe I am:)- but I am envious that I didn't care what anyone thought of me. I was simply enjoying myself, not really caring if I was seen by the world passing by. As I moved away from being fearless my goal was to be less seen. I didn't want people to notice the things that I didn't like about me. Without throwing out every single event in my life that made me feel small, overtime I moved away from the sparkly soul I was at 8. I don't believe the way young girls flip the switch from the fearlessness of being 8 to the self doubt of later adolescence is accidental. During the car ride my mom opened up to me about how when I was that age she had bought a book called "Reviving Ophelia" by Mary Pipher. She said she bought the book because she didn't want me to grow up hating myself, and she was struggling with watching me struggle. And truth be told- my mom was empowering towards me. She always liked me, and celebrated who I was. She is kickass, hence why I always write about her. She told me in our little road trip convo, that no girl starts out thinking she will be a victim of circumstances or events. Shit happens and sometimes we are aware that it is happening, but not sure what we did to deserve it. After hearing her explanation of what changes people away from fearless, I was like "Oh fuuuuuck we have to do better". WE have to do better for girls who think their worth is definable by something they saw on tv, or heard in the hall at school. We should lead by example that self love is a life long journey, and no one is unscathed by adolescent self doubt. SO- whether someone is still 8 and fearless, or somewhere further on in their journey- nourish them.
Libby Anne Groseclose