When I was a kid, my mother used to bring my 2 older sisters and I to the city’s library on a regular basis. There, we would check-out books and games. I loved going to the library and I always brought home more books than I could read.
One time, I must have been 5 or 6, my sisters and I were in there, checking out books. Roaming around, I decide to step over to a new section. Suddenly, my sister K tells me that I can’t go over to that section (for kids 8 and up) because I am too young and I have to stay in the baby section. The 8+ section is forbidden to me.
Now I know it was just some childish ranting, and I’m sure my sister didn’t mean to hurt me, but what she told me really got ingrained in my brain. You’d think I would have rebelled against her, but I’ve always been shy. My sister K, 2 years my elder, was also my “favorite sister”. We were best friends, we were ALWAYS together. We even made plans to break down the wall separating our 2 bedrooms so we could share one big room (which, for obvious reasons, never happened). She was my idol, my influence, she was my whole world! As a child, what do you do when the people you love give you advice or rules to follow? You just go along with what they say.
For the next YEARS, I did not cross over to the forbidden section. I was afraid to step inside, even more so to look up books. The idea to CHECK-OUT a book from that section never even crossed my mind. I’d imagine the librarian giving me that look from above her thick glasses and publicly humiliating me for trying to check-out a book that wasn’t in my “age range”. There was no way I’d break the “rule”.
So I spent years in the baby section, checking out the same boring books week after week. And then, one day, my sister K approached me and asked why I never went over to the other section, the one with great books. I did not tell her it was because she had forbidden me to do so a long time ago… I probably invented a lame excuse and reached over to the new section, secretly ecstatic about a new world opening to me. I was finally granted the right to step into the older section! Now that I had paid my dues on the baby side, I could get where I really wanted to go.
When I look back to my childhood, it is filled with moments like these, where the “can’t do this or that” was king. As soon as a person of influence foreboded me to do something, I’d listen to them and wait until either they changed their minds and granted me the opportunity, or until I didn’t want it anymore. This probably happened to me even more often than most people because I had older sisters I aimed to resemble, and my mother was so busy raising us all that I didn’t want to be THE TROUBLEMAKER (this title was reserved to my sister K).
So what happens now that I’m all grown up? I seem to want something that people around me think is weird. They don’t agree with the lifestyle I would like to pursue. They think it is not possible, not feasible, to live the life I aim to live.
Experiences like this one stays with us for a long time. The adult that I am knows this is just a memory and that I’m the only one in charge of my life and decisions. But the child inside me still shakes in fear at the idea of going after what I really want, moreover when someone I know and trust with my life disagrees with my choice. Will the adult in me ever make the decision? Or will the scared child I still am deep inside stay put in fear of breaking the “rules”?