"All life events are formative. All contribute to what we become, year by year, as we go on growing. As my friend the poet Kenneth Koch once said, "You aren't just the age you are. You are all the ages you ever have been." - Fred Rogers
When I was a little girl, I was me. I was shy, a little cautious, a lot awkward and quirky, and I stumbled through, always making the most of life and what it offered. I had a real soft spot for animals, and my parents indulged this through a crazy cat named Cocoa and a lazy basset hound named Barney. I also pretended to "own" all the wild animals that would visit our house in the country. The deer (one of whom was my pet named Bambi), the birds, the squirrels. And I had my fair share of self-doubt.
Now, I am me. Shy, a little cautious, a lot of awkward and quirky...still stumbling through and making the most. Still having a real soft spot for animals. Six cats! Countless birds at the bird feeder. A daily visit with the neighbor's dog, whom I've given my own names: Old Yeller and Fuchsbau.
And yep, still that ever-present self-doubt.
It's weird to think that you can go through so much, so many life experiences and still be essentially yourself. It's comforting to think that. I like me.
Through my life, I have been exposed to my fair share of Fred Rogers. Through Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Obviously. But now, through youTube videos and books and quotes. He, along with my parents, my PawPaw, and Jimmy Stewart, is my hero. I have lots of heroes...probably more than listed here...because I admire a lot of people. It's easy for me to see the good in others. But despite the powerful words of Fred Rogers, it's sometimes hard for me to see the good in myself.
This was a hard week. I trusted my instinct. I made tough decisions. I felt overwhelmed. I stressed. I was basically a walking nerve-ending by the end of the week, ready to collapse from the sheer anxiety of it all. And I wasn't perfect. I kept stumbling. But with each stumble, I learned. I grew. I became.
I'm a lucky person. I have been nurtured. I am cared for. And when I am at my very best, the very best version of me, I am nurturing, I am caring for. I have had the opportunity to do a lot of nurturing and caring lately, a lot of just being there. It's simple and brilliant at the same time, and it makes me deliriously happy. Sometimes, I let that happy fall victim to stress and to doubt and to other. And that's when I get mad. I let the anger roll in, and I scream that it's UNFAIR.
And then, I pause. I breathe. I become.
Sometimes, it's hard to like me. When the self-doubt takes over. When I listen more to the naysayers than the lovers. But at the end of the day, I am proud of the person I am and the person I'm still becoming.
And if today and tomorrow and the day after that I can strive to become more myself (and maybe a bit more like Fred Rogers), I'll be proud.