• natalienuttall

When I grow up

I went on a walk with my daughter's reception class the other week. I was having some fun with the kids as we were approaching some steep(ish) steps and I joked: "OK, so who is going to carry ME up the steps?" The earnest response came from a four-year-old with a furrowed brow: "But you're a grown up!?!".

And I considered that for a moment. An actual grown up.

Whatever that might mean.

When we grow up and become adults in the eyes of the law, with responsibilities, mortgages and maybe even children of our own, the world can seem a lot more serious.

We fall into jobs sometimes and wonder how we got there ten years on. We abandon dreams of childhood as 'fantasy' and pursue 'real' jobs to pay those scary mortgages. And somewhere along the way we might lose touch with that wonderment and curiosity that is synonymous with being young and carefree.

Children don't see the world through a lens of limitation and solemnity. Yet, paradoxically, they are serious about their dreams and their ambition has no boundaries.

My nine-year-old is genuinely 100% adamant that he will play cricket for his country. My four-year-old changes her dreams with every hour but each one sends her into a fizz of excitement and possibility.

When I was growing up I wrote stories and poetry. Some of it was intense and precocious, admittedly (you don't say). I found great joy in connecting pen to paper (there were no Chromebooks in that era) and letting words pour out in whatever order they decided to.

As I grew older, I forgot the art of free writing. I wrote diligently and analytically about literature for a degree, then I began to write for clients of all shapes and sizes to meet editorial criteria and business KPIs. I honed the skills, yet I lost touch with the unbridled expression of writing from the heart. With no desire to meet expectation, but to simply be immersed in the act of writing.

Then I remembered.

I realised that, if I overlooked my own source of joy, in the belief it was somehow indulgent and 'not serving a purpose' then I was missing a vital part of me.

I'd inadvertently written off the very thing that made me feel truly alive.

So, I started to spend more time in that heartspace. And I reflected on how the transition to being a 'grown up' had, at times, felt less like growth and more like limitation.

The nudge from within that was pulling me to step into courage and 'do' from a place of 'being' had a ripple effect. Within a few years a beautiful charity was flourishing with an incredible team, self-employment meant client relationships were far more aligned, coaching emerged as a career turn.... and writing started happening again.

Uncompromised self-expression. No deadlines, just natural (ebb and) flow and tides of words spilled out onto screens, dancing to no other choreography than their own.

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