February 2011
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That Little Girl

Who were you at 8 or 9?

Feeling stuck in your life?  Are you looking to regain a sense of potency and vibrancy?

You might find it useful to look back to who you were as a young girl. Back before the pressures of puberty, and then life in general, may have steered you onto a different course.  Perhaps that little girl knew exactly who she was - and what she wanted to be when she grew up.

In her book, The Girl Within, Emily Hancock asks us to do just that - to rediscover the gifts and dreams we had at 8 or 9.  She refers to this period as "an interim space between fantasy and reality that fosters creative self-ownership." According to her research, re-discovering the girl within - and reintegrating that androgynous little girl - appears to be the key to a woman's identity.

I spent my childhood just beyond the western suburbs of Philadelphia. A dreamy, intuitive child, I loved music, animals, and playing in the woods and fields that surrounded my home.

I would entertain myself for hours in my tree fort. I loved imagining that I was a secret agent solving mysteries. I also loved drawing mazes and writing about my cats. Life was good. I felt connected to my world.

But then, when I was 8, everything changed.

Me at 8

My mother, nine months pregnant with my sister, had a stroke. And, although this event was never spoken about, I felt a growing sense of uneasiness and uncertainty enter my life. With a father who worked far from home - and sisters and a brother to look after - I was forced to become an adult way too early.

In this new reality there was no place for that dreamy little girl. I had to be responsible. And so, I devoted the next 30 years of my life to building structures that I thought would make me feel safe and secure. I got a good education and what seemed like the right jobs. But, all I ended up with was a dreamy girl trapped inside a hardened business woman's body (with plenty of chiropractic bills to show for it).

Now I'm rediscovering that little girl - and integrating her energy, vitality, and enthusiasm back into my life - safe in the knowledge that her gifts will actually guide and protect me on the rest of my journey.

Try looking back to those years - and see who you find. She might have something very valuable to teach you.



Emily Hancock,"The Girl Within," New York, Ballantine Books, 1989.


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