I recently rediscovered some of my childhood joy. The most wonderful thing about this is that it happened in the middle of a spell of anxiety.

I’m the kind of person who has to always be doing something, so to me, it was a disaster when my doctor told me I should stay away from work for a week and a half after some issues with anxiety.

I was in a bad place to start with. It only got worse after a couple of days of lying in bed, not feeling like I could even leave the house. All the time I was guilt tripping myself over how I had to just pull myself together and get back to work so I can pay the bills. I was lying there thinking “why the hell did I even want to be a grown-up so much anyway?”

And for some reason, on that particular day, that thought really fascinated me. Since I had nothing else to do, I spent the rest of the day thinking about it. I checked in with 8 year old me, and asked her to tell me what she really wanted out of grown-up life.

  • Bedtime freedom: Who else hated being told when to go to bed? Even if we should probably be getting to bed earlier than we do, there’s something pretty great about the freedom to stay up until 3am watching Netflix if that’s what we want to do.
  • Food freedom: I was (and still am!!) a very picky eater, and would get so stressed around mealtimes. A younger version of myself could not wait to be in charge of my own food, instead of eating whatever I was given. If I want a dinner of Nutella from the jar, then that’s what I’m having, and it feels great.
  • Room freedom: I’m a messy person, it’s just how I feel comfortable. I don’t mind if other people are neat freaks or hoarders or whatever so long as they have their space and I have mine. When I was a kid, I was constantly getting told off for leaving my toys out, and I could not wait until I had a place of my own so I could keep my precious things wherever I wanted instead of always hidden away in a cupboard!
  • Animal freedom: I love animals. The whole time I was growing up I was DESPERATE for a pet. Now, I’m the very lucky owner of a gorgeous cat, Morris. I think 8-year-old me would fall completely in love with him too.
  • Homework freedom: I think homework is just plain mean. After a full day of lessons at school, kids have to sit at home and do more work by themselves. I always hated it, and was really excited about the idea of a job where once I left the office, that was it for the day. Really, the grown-up version of this is a good work-life balance, and something that I still struggle with at times, but I’m getting there!

Going through this made me realize that a lot of the things that I was really looking forward to about the autonomy of being a grown-up… I already have. It was a real watershed moment in acknowledging and being grateful for the privileges that I own, and to check myself against what is really important to me personally.

When scrolling through Instagram and seeing so many photos of people’s best selves with their glossy hair, exciting jobs, and sometimes even kids of their own, it is so easy to feel like you’re falling behind.

If you ever feel this way too, I would absolutely encourage you to take a step back, and have a chat with your inner child. It’s pretty great when you realize how proud the you of today would make that kid you once were, because honestly, you’re doing a lot better than you give yourself credit for.

What were you looking forward to most about being a grown up when you were a kid? I’d love to hear about it! Comment below to join the discussion.