Today marks the final day of my twenty-eighth year; tomorrow, I will accept the opportunity and challenge that my twenty-ninth year brings.
I was telling stories about my childhood tonight. I told a story about how I never played with dolls, but much preferred Mirco Machines or some other car toy. I had a friend (and still do; we saw each other very recently, though she lives in another state) who seemed to enjoy dolls and all things having to do with them. I remember countless times she came over to play, she got so upset that we weren’t going to play with dolls. She’d say, “I am the guest. I should be allowed to choose what we play,” to which I would always respond, “Maybe, but this is my house, and we’ll play what I want.” (And we did.) After telling this story to my boyfriend, he said something to the effect of, “You clearly had no trouble saying what you wanted.” I considered this briefly before moving on to share other stories of my peculiarities, but his comment brought to mind a question: Am I different now than I was as a child? Of course the answer is that yes, I am a changed being– I am a certain number of years older, with a certain number of experiences that have weathered me. But am I a different person? At my core, have I changed? Have circumstances eaten me alive, leaving me to be disconnected pieces that were chewed and mashed and ground out to be single pieces of something that was once a whole? When I was a child, and even on through middle and high school, I was certain of things. The answers to questions were black and white; there was no ambiguity. I understand that maturity is the process through which I grew (and continue to grow) that declares, in a sense, the existence of ambiguity and importance of circumstance surrounding outcomes. But at least I had that certainty and that assuredness that allowed me peace to decide.
Today I feel very different from that person I remember being. I have changed. Now, were I to have a guest who wanted to play with dolls (at this point, I would hope that she or he would be the child of a friend), I would definitely play with him/her. There is something to be said, however, about that knowing what I wanted. I got what I wanted, at the expense of my friend’s comfort and enjoyment (sorry, friend), and I remember really liking that we played with the toys I liked. I work in an extremely taxing environment where I not only serve my patients and clients in music therapy, but I also literally serve them food, beverage, and anything else they may need or want. I feel the need to be careful not to transfer my desire to help at all costs into my personal livelihood. I am recognizing the importance of identifying what I want, be it tangible or experiential, and not feeling guilty for finding ways to have it. I am excited to learn some lessons from my child self and to find and hopefully maintain balance once I do.
Happy birthday, Micro Machine-lover and doll-denier.
Thanks for reading.

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