Sometimes I miss being little.
Don’t get me wrong, I do love being an adult; the freedom, the agency and ability to do whatever I want whenever I want, but being little was awesome. Who I was, was awesome. I was driven only by joy, only by what amused me and lit me up inside. I wasn’t yet acquainted with doubt or self judgment… I just was. I was myself. I was me and I liked her. I loved her. I loved life and wasn’t scared of it. No one had taught me I was “different” yet. No one had told me I wasn’t “good enough” yet. I miss the freedom of not knowing, sometimes. Of not seeing the ugliness human beings are capable of, the ugliness we’re all capable of. There’s a remarkable beauty in my foregone naïveté.
I wasn’t one of those kids that spent her youth wishing she was grown. I clung to childhood with everything I had, refusing in futile ways to give in to nature and the order of things. I dug in my heels, and my nails, trying to fight time that moved too fast. I’d hide my body and refuse to shave my legs when all my friends started to. I slept with my baby blanket, kept my stuffed animals, held my mom’s hand in public, played pretend even when no one else would join in anymore. It was too soon and it scared me. I didn’t want to be a grown up.
I didn’t want to stop believing in magic.
Ironically, I lived a very grown up life. I had been working since I was 2 and was always surrounded by adults and had very adult responsibilities from the jump, but I loved what I did so much it never felt like that. It always felt like I got to do my favorite thing on the grandest scale – the ultimate game of pretend. As often as people could understandably forget, the fact remained: I was little and I didn’t want to be anything other than what I was.
Growing up is hard.
What they don’t tell you is that process never really stops. You never really reach a “final” form. You’re not “grown” at 18 or 21 or 30 or 50. Becoming you is an endless, miraculous process. It’s the strangest landscape to traverse – a boundless map of peaks and valleys, victories and defeats, great loves and heartbreaks, with some answers and more questions than anyone could ever explain to you when you’re young and maybe it’s better that they don’t. As cliche as it may be, or as it may sound, it really is all about the journey.
The older and wiser I get, the more I’ve realized that all I’m really trying to do is get back to being that girl… to not be bothered by the noisy outside world, to not absorb the storm of opinions that swirl around me, to do what lifts my heart, to love what and who I can with bravery, to simplify it all; to stop overcomplicating my life and my decisions and remember what matters. What mattered to little me, is what really matters most to big me. I’ve been hurt so many times, as we all have. I’ve been betrayed and ridiculed. I’ve been gaslit and put down to the point where I can’t remember who I am or what I love, or why I should even love myself. In those moments, I remember her and I ask myself the simplest question:
Would I tell that little girl the things I’m saying to myself right now? Would I tell her, she’s stupid and useless, that she should’ve known better? Would I berate her and make her feel like her efforts amount to nothing, that she should give up? Would I never forgive her, or punish her for just being a person who may have fallen short, like all humans do? No. I would never do that to a child. So I should never do it to myself.
This is my favorite way to look at things, because let’s be honest, being an adult is complicated as hell and at times it’s hard as fuck. Making decisions and managing life can be insanely difficult. I know I’m not alone when I say that I can get so lost in all of it, no matter how tough I try to be, or what kind of strong front I may put on to hide it from other people. We all get lost. When I do, this is always what I come back to. Inside all of us is that little kid – that smaller, sweeter version of ourselves. Maybe we got great guidance, maybe we didn’t. No parents are perfect, but the fantastic part of being an adult is that we can reparent ourselves at any time, at any point. We have the ability and the power and the knowledge to give ourselves what we may have needed and didn’t get. All this stuff about self love is really just that… giving yourself the grace you always longed for in those moments when it wasn’t there. If, at first, you can’t imagine giving it to yourself, imagine you have a kid of your own like I do sometimes.
Would I tell my kid to do what I’m about to do? Would I tell my kid to put up with someone treating them this way? Would I tell my kid to give up? If the answer is No, I don’t do it, I don’t put up with it, I don’t give up.
You deserve to have unbridled joy. You deserve to have a life that fulfills you, no matter what that looks like to anyone else. For reasons I couldn’t possibly articulate or fully comprehend, it takes more work to get there than when you’re little, but that’s okay. Whether you believe it right now or not, you’re worth the effort.
Never grow up. It’s all a ruse. I still hold my mom’s hand in public.
Actress. Writer. Dedicated dog mom and coffee enthusiast. Tina Majorino began her career in the spotlight when she was a little girl and has been known for her roles in When a Man Loves a Woman; Corrina, Corrina, Napoleon Dynamite and Veronica Mars, among others. Tina is also a writer. She began creating scripts when she was young and has only developed her love and talent through her life experience. When she’s not working, Tina’s life revolves around her role as a dedicated dog mom and coffee enthusiast.