I started this year off with the hopes that I would take initiative on things I want to do instead of wishing those things would magically come to me. I noted down some things I often found myself daydreaming about, recognizing they were realistic goals I’ve had since childhood. A lot of these I had to put off for when I’d be “old enough” but it finally hit me at the ripe age of 20 that I’m finally old enough, yet, I have found infinite ways to put things off.
While “healing the inner child” wasn’t necessarily my goal for the year, I have found it difficult to proceed with my goals without acknowledging this part of a growth journey. While some of these goals are easy, like picking up old hobbies, others are a little more intimidating, like solo traveling. It’s when I get to these intimidating goals that I start doubting myself and experiencing imposter syndrome because I can’t recognize whether I should proceed despite my fears or whether I’m really throwing myself to the crocodiles and should go with even smaller baby steps.
While I’ve understood for some years now that a large part of our healing journey requires us to heal our inner child, I only recently came to understand the challenge of recognizing what parts of me are my inner child. In other words, I realized a lot of my personality was just a reaction to experiences I had in my childhood and adolescence. I had to look back on who I was before those experiences to understand where certain traits came from. I also had to determine whether these traits stayed with me because I was continuously reacting to an environment I was no longer in or because my personality simply continued to develop as I explored different aspects of my identity.
This awareness of my reactions to things that are no longer happening has helped mostly with my communication skills, but I’ve found it’s only one of many keys to overcoming deep-rooted fears I’ve developed over the years. It’s easy to discern between your logical mind and emotional, anxious mind, but choosing your logical mind every time—or even most of the time—is a challenge in and of itself. I have found this is because I can’t discern between anxiety and intuition, leaving me to choose between logic and intuition as if they’re mutually exclusive. I can either betray logic to go with my intuition (which may just be anxiety), or I can betray my intuition to go with logic (which may just be the result of overthinking). Discernment is still something I’m far from mastering, but the most helpful tip I’ve heard is that intuition will often come with a sense of detachment.
This little discovery of mine was definitely a sign of progress, but I’ve been stuck ever since. I plan out these goals and only go as far as my fear will allow me. Every time I chose to avoid the things making me anxious, I gave that anxiety more power over me. Now, despite my determination to go through with these plans, I feel I hit a dead end every time. While this pattern is nothing new in my life, experiencing it with the self-awareness that I have today has helped me recognize one of the biggest challenges in a growth journey: taking control of your ego.
If I’m being honest with myself, the reason I’ve dissected my feelings so much is that every time I hit that dead end, I thought, “It can’t be this simple— there’s no way I’m just supposed to go through with something that overwhelms me with this much fear.” I was hoping the entire time that it would be easy to choose my logical mind, that I could reach a point of self-awareness and of understanding myself and others that these goals would no longer intimidate me.
I hate to admit it, but I was looking for an easy way out. While, of course, discernment between anxiety and intuition would probably make this a much easier decision to make as I wouldn’t have the insecurity that I may be betraying logic or intuition, I will still be anxious. My goal for years has been to stop being so fearful when it should have been to do anything despite that fear. My idea of overcoming anxiety was that I wouldn’t feel it anymore rather than take control of it as I experienced it.
I wish I had a story I could tell you guys that involves me doing something that terrified me, but the truth is that I have yet to accept my little realization. A part of me still feels it’s wrong to go through with something too overwhelming, so I have yet to do it! That brings me to the next issue I have with discernment: when is something “too” overwhelming? When should I pull back and say “Hey, this scares me and that’s okay, but maybe I should show myself some grace and start with something small.” Well, allow me to be honest again and admit that I don’t really care to show myself grace with baby steps.
There’s no way I’m going to try to justify this because it’s absolutely not a healthy mentality to have, but I can’t stand the idea of a long journey that demands baby steps. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal, if I can’t fly to my destination then I’m staying put. This is probably why that dead end I keep hitting practically leaves me with no choice but to give up; I don’t see baby steps as an option so I force myself to fly when I barely know how to book the flight.
It’s not that I don’t believe in baby steps, I create most of my goal plans with baby steps but I always skip over them. I’m aware it’s the fear itself making me do this, like it makes me want to rip the band-aid off so I won’t have to suffer as long. It’s a little disheartening to think that when I finally feel courageous in this way, I’m really just handing the control back to my anxiety. It all brings me back to trying to understand that inner child, and why she stopped exploring the world and her curiosities despite her fears of the unknown.
I’m still trying to find the courage she lost, but I hope that by coming to understand her a little more, it will be easier to choose that logical mind in moments of fear. I’m no longer expecting it to be easy because my fears will be less pronounced, but because I will understand those fears and my decision won’t feel like a sacrifice to my intuition or my logic, it will feel like a reward to that inner child who always wanted to take one step forward despite her fears.
About the Author:
Born in Cuba and raised in Las Vegas, Cesia is a junior at UNLV pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in History with a concentration in Latin American history and a minor in French. Outside of her school interests, she finds herself particularly interested in astrology and travel plans. While she hopes to stay in the field of history, she is passionate about mental health and hopes to help others through her writing for us here at LYF.