What I learned from my 7-year-old self

I still remember being 7 years old and watching an advertisement on TV – back when the telly was the size of your living room – about children starving in Africa. After seeing the ad, I immediately set to work creating a charity business plan, equipped with hand drawn, felt tip marker, A4 paper leaflets to hand out in school. I went around to all of the classrooms and asked everybody to donate so that I could send money to Africa to help those children I had seen in the commercial. As a young girl, I was very upset by seeing the struggles of others, but I was also extremely motivated to make a difference. An hour after setting out on my donations excursion, I was pulled into the headmaster’s office where I was told that what I was doing was wrong — I was not a registered charity and therefore I could not ask people to make donations. Rather than telling me how I could raise money, and providing me with an alternative way to help, my idea was simply shot down. It may seem like a small incident, but it is one that has remained in my mind since the day it happened. It is a moment from my childhood that changed me. By having my idea squashed without a suggested alternative I didn’t learn a helpful lesson from the experience. What I learned instead was not to share my perspective. As a creative person with an always running mind filled with new ideas it’s been hard to keep my thoughts to myself, but for years that’s what I’ve done. Recently, however, something changed. I let go of my fear and started to create again. I became just a little bit more like the 7-year-old girl I used to be. By releasing the fear of rejection and failure, now when I see situations that I do not like and would like to change, they light a fire in me just like that advertisement did; I feel the need to do something. My 7-year-old self would be proud. I have always thought that if I was full of myself – especially as a woman – that I would come across as arrogant or cocky, rather than just motivated and confident. Then I realized that being “full of yourself” is probably the single most important thing that any of us can be. The more full of yourself that you are, the more you have to offer to others. Full of yourself shouldn’t have a negative connotation, but instead a positive one. It should mean that we are in alignment with ourselves, and that we are content with who we truly are (even Oprah agrees with me on that one) and that from this place of fullness we’ll have the power to help others. That 7-year-old girl was not afraid of taking a stand for what she believed in, because she was full of herself — she knew who she was and what she wanted to do. She didn’t stop to “what if” or question what her schoolmates would think if she had an idea. She just followed through, and she went full steam ahead. As we grow older, we are taught to make ourselves smaller, and to consider our peers opinions rather than making decisions based on our own wants, needs, or desires. Children are fearless because they have not yet been told that they can’t.  If a child has to voice their idea in school they are usually jumping out of their seats, “Me! Me!” — excited to tell the rest of the class what they want to do, or what they are thinking. They are encouraged to think for themselves, and to think creatively. Yet as we grow older, and more mature, that sense of self diminishes as does that confidence. Our thinking and learning and creating begins to get defined for us rather than by us. We’re told that we must make good grades, go to a great university, and then find a job that is financially stable. In the process, many of us also lose the confidence that our original ideas are brilliant and worth pursuing. As we grow up we should become more full of ourselves, not less. Imagine yourself at 7. What did she think of herself? How did she feel? What did she dream of? And try to bring a little more of that to your life today. We should all aspire to be a little more childlike in our thinking — to be a little more confident, and excited about what it is that we have to say and want to do. Each of us has a dream and a talent and a voice, of this I am 100% sure. Each of us has the ability to bring about change, whether small or big. Yes, we have to grow up, but that doesn’t mean we have to leave behind who we are. [Image via ShutterStock] Joelly Bambi is an international student with a passion for life, writing and traveling. She spends way too much time with her head in a book or in a jar of Nutella. Check out her blog www.joellybambiblog.wordpress.com for more personal ramblings, or follow her Instagram @joellybambi for daily inspirational quotes.