We read a lot about childhood development, the different stages, and the corresponding skills a child acquires from birth. Surprisingly, or not, adults have stages of development too. Kegan and Levinson have influenced this area of study and what resonates with me is that as we progress through adulthood, we come to realize that many of our behaviours used to be geared towards meeting others’ expectations. Once we are able to let go of those expectations, we start to live for ourselves.
This concept of being our own author of our lives has been moulded over by many psychologists over the years. So much theory that I sometimes cannot digest. But this is what I understand to be behind the concept:
This level of maturity in my adult development is where I can be myself, and I am my inner child. Little Nochie can come out to play, and not mind what others think. She can stay in her Bear Cave if she was tired, and feel no pressure to prove her adequacy or be worried that others would leave her if she did not go along and played what they wanted to. She is not a court jester dancing a show for others to see, nor for others to judge. There is no need for masks.
Analysis is great, self-exploration is great – but I must not get comfortable down the rabbit hole. There must come a point where I do change my actions and thoughts and mindsets. There must be a day where I do not react in fury, slamming the wastepaper basket onto the dining table in a fight with Timmie, but a containment for myself to take in comments, disagreements and not be poised to fight with my armour on all the time.
I like my fish faces, and animal impressions. I love my bears and my doodles. I relish in being silly. I amuse myself with matching up photos of my daughter with Lucky Trolls and Tweety Birds, both of which were my favourite things back in school days. I work with objects, with toys, with playfulness, with lumps of poo…
That is who I am. I am weird. And I like that – because all you normal people are boring!
To fully embrace myself, maybe I am developing from whatever insecure stage to this “Self-Authoring Stage,” learning to use my creative side and the vulnerabilities that I feel. It is a rugged journey, up and down, round and round and about, but an exhilarating ride nevertheless.
This is the answer to my fears: I may always have them, but I now have the choice whether to act on them or not. I can catch myself from the automatic responses out of fear, from jumping to conclusions, from being defensive (well, this one is hard).
I can use the fear.
I am fragile still today. But I need time to be a bud. Once I shine, you will need ultra-strong UV sunglasses with 100+ sunblock.
Shine with me. Shine for yourself.
Inspired by Paul.