For my 9th birthday, (which was in 1997) someone (probably my grandma) gave me an American Girl journal (which became the first of many embarrassing documents in which I would chronicle how weird I was.) (True story- in one journal I brought home from Disney World-bright orange paper, front cover with FUR- I started signing it “Alex” and made a notation that I really liked that name and so would be signing my entries with the pseudonym from here on. WAT?)
Here’s what I can tell you about that journal (I still have it. I referenced it today.) I was in the 3rd grade. I wore a white long-sleeve t-shirt and a denim vest for school pictures. I lied about weighing 97 pounds. (Tangentially here, Dear American Girl Inc. circa Late 1990s. WHY ARE YOU ASKING LITTLE GIRLS HOW MUCH THEY WEIGH? THIS IS A BAD IDEA.) I wanted to be 1 of 3 things when I grew up: an Olympic diver, a lawyer, or a fashion designer.
Two of those things I can explain. To me, a lawyer or a fashion designer epitomized a woman who could GET SHIT DONE. To become a lawyer or a fashion designer or a fashion designing lawyer, I would have to be smart, driven, ambitious, and super freaking classy and chic. These were the things that at 9 years old I believed I was not only capable of becoming but also felt predestined for. I WAS NINE. Which explains the third career path of Olympic diver which is a little bit of a stretch, but at age 9 there were two things I loved to do: swim and read. That was pretty much it. I was only marginally interested in anything else. So diving professionally (at an Olympic level no less…) was pretty much my definition of paradise.
Here’s another funny thing about that journal. I went back later and crossed out my old answers to write in new ones that I felt reflected my more mature, developed self. (Including but not limited to correcting the spelling on my answer to “What’s the hardest part of growing up” which was “Responsabilitie”). That gives me a lot of heart feelings because, I’ve obviously been this way for a very long time. This need to self-refine is a thread that has woven through every stage of my life. At age 10, my childish 9 year old ways were a blemish on the bright young woman I was becoming and it wouldn’t stand to preserve those errors. Even on paper. To myself. Good grief. There’s some evidence that suggests that our personalities are more or less the same from childhood onward. Anecdotally, this seems true for me.
I have wondered lately, what 1997 Amanda would think of me. Sometimes, it is of great concern that I might be a disappointment to her. She would be horrified by how fat I’ve gotten. There’s no doubt she was CERTAIN that we would have gotten that thing on lock by 26. There just would have been too many other things to worry about, like winning Gold at Rio. I think she might be a little embarrassed that I didn’t make it any farther than the town with the Wal-Mart 20 minutes from home. I think she would be surprised to find out that compulsive journaling would translate into a love of writing and story telling and that I would actually pursue those ends rather than going pre-law or fashion and merchandising. She would LOVE Brett and I think be quite impressed with him. 1997 Amanda loved a good laugh. (That actually never changes.)
I’ve been thinking about time management and energy management (there might be a post in there somewhere) and of course, as you know from journeying on with me, I never stop thinking about the woman I am and the woman I might become. But there is something that creates great pause in me when I consider the girl I was. And her dreams. And her hang ups. And her imagination. I want so sincerely to live up to her expectations- to become a woman for whom nothing is unattainable. Even prosecuting war criminals while wearing a diving swimsuit of my own design.