Updated: May 15
My inner child is absolutely beside herself this morning, so I'm taking some time to write. You see, in the last 6 or 8 months I've been trying extra hard to do things with/for my inner child. Things that would excite her, things that I always wanted to do but never received (or allowed myself) the opportunity.
At the moment, my inner child is excited because in about 3 hours I'll be joining in an online competitive Minecraft game, "last man standing" style, that will run weekly for about 8 weeks. The amount of excitement I've been experiencing is unlike anything I've experienced for at least 20 years, maybe longer. For the past 4 or 5 nights I've been planning my Minecraft traps and redstone and builds in my sleep, often waking up around 4 am with so much adrenaline (or something) coursing through my body that I struggle to fall back to sleep. I've had so much energy at work, but all of seemed to be earmarked for Minecraft and so getting administrative tasks done felt like drudgery. I got through it by watching Minecraft videos and doing more planning during my lunch hours.
Younger Beth was a vibrantly imaginative little girl. She would get caught up in stories of her own making, and happily exist in that internal world for hours. As she got older, she became more serious. I'm not entirely sure what caused that shift, but I know it began around the age of 8. I think I've talked about my 8-year-old self before, but I'll summarize. We moved away from my friends and the only way of life I had known - next door to grandparents, and living on a farm. I experienced some mild bullying and a lot of ostracization at our new school. The bullying was nothing more than making fun of how I walked, but the lack of good friends was the tough part.
I have a couple of vibrant memories from that time: one of them was when I brought home a big cardboard cutout person-sized dragon after our school finished a performance of Puff the Magic Dragon. It was taller than me, and I wanted to play a prank on my mom so I walked it up to the front door, rang the doorbell, and made it look as though the dragon was peering into the window. That attittude right there, that goofiness, is the the emotional stance as the inner self who loves Minecraft so much. Another memory I have is burrowing into the bottom of my closet with cushions and a lamp and some books. I would tuck myself away somewhere dark and safe and read Narnia books. I didn't realize I was hiding, I just knew I was comfortable there. Years later, as an undergrad student finishing my bachelor degree in education, I found out that kids who make nests or forts in closets or under beds are doing so because they're in emotional or psychological distress.
This whole process I'm going through now, learning to identify what my child-self would want to do, has been tough. Some activities are easy, like getting ice cream. Even though my responsible self wants to argue that I don't need it and it's a waste of money and I'm trying to eat healthier, that responsible self also knows that supporting my inner child is healing for me and accepts it. But then we get to activities that are time-consuming, like devoting 4 hours each Saturday for 8 weeks to a Minecraft event. My responsible self really wants to put an end to that one because it uses up so much of my day, it's a long time commitment, and I've just barely begun to have enough energy to start connecting with my friends again. Wouldn't my time be put to better use doing something more productive? Or at least physically soical?
But that's just the thing. My younger self often had to put off the things she was excited about because there was something more important. She feels like she rarely got to do her own things because there was no one who wanted to be there with her for them, and she couldn't handle doing things alone. So she settled for doing other people's things with them so that she was at least with people.
So now I'm going with her. I'm excited with her. I'm loving Minecraft so very much that I'm more than willing to give up 4 hours every Saturday for the next 8 weeks, if I manage to survive that long. I'm so excited about it that I'm recording my game play and will be uploading my videos to YouTube. If you're curious, you're welcome to follow along with me. My YouTube channel is going to be undergoing slow but steady renovation over the course of the next several months. I'm intentionally wanting to create a bit of a "play room" for myself.