Paper Dolls

I’ve had some trouble sleeping this past week or so. Brain too busy. To pass the time that I should have been spending asleep, I’ve been splitting my attention between YouTube, Twitter, eBay and Spotify. That’s a lethal little late night, time-sucking cocktail if ever there was one.

Through a series of events that I don’t feel the need to elaborate on, apart from mentioning the very enjoyable #MemoryMarch, I ended up listening to this little beauty in the early hours of the morning. Two things occurred swiftly afterwards. Thing one was the purchase of this bad boy, which arrived yesterday:


The second thing that happened was I time travelled. I’m not even joking. Hearing that song (yeah, and ok, I admit it, watching this clip) transported me back to 1987. I was no longer a thirty-six year old mother in her jammies, surfing the internet at 4am instead of sleeping, I was seven years old, watching Scott and Charlene get married. So powerful was the memory, I could feel my school uniform, picture every detail of my Mum’s front room. Things I had forgotten about years ago zoomed back into focus. It was like I’d transformed into another version of myself. This exact version in fact, which is a picture of me, having just watched Scott and Charlene get married. Note the wistful expression and tear-stained cheeks:


Which got me thinking- just how many of me are there out there? I know I am not the little girl blubbing watching ‘Neighbours’ any longer, but how many other versions of myself have I forgotten about along the way? How about the me who hated vegetables? What about the me who wanted to be a journalist? Where did the me that thought wet-look leggings were a good idea go? (Actually, maybe don’t send out a search party for that last one.)

My question is, how do these new versions of ourselves emerge? And how do we know when it’s time to leave one behind? And what would happen if we could connect them all together again?

Hearing that old song made me happy and sad at the same time. It was like meeting a dear friend that I had lost long ago and then suddenly found she was standing beside me again. The memory reconnected me to an earlier me and I felt stronger for it, more grounded in myself somehow.

Sometimes it is easy to see where the old you stops and the new you begins. Losing someone you love will do that every time. Part of grief is letting the old you, the person you were before the loss, leave you forever. It hurts so badly you feel like the old you has been cut out, torn from you.

Other times the change is more subtle. You grow and learn, sometimes so gently and so quietly only your loved ones really see it. I see different versions of my own children surface and submerge constantly. The evolution of who you are never stops. The ‘you’ of you is in constant motion, it is never quite done.

Professionally too, we change. The old versions of ourselves stack up and are forgotten. I was promoted recently and now I don’t have a class any more. Does that mean I am no longer a teacher? Do I need to leave the teacher version of myself behind?

Doing the Into Headship course is changing me too. My eyes are opening to research and theory and giving me a brand new set of lenses to see the world and my own practice through. It is a very special thing.

So, maybe in the end what we need to do is sift through those old versions of ourselves and decide who is worth fighting to keep.

I want the little girl who loved ‘Neighbours’, she reminds me that feeling all the feelings is ok sometimes. I want the new mum me, so full of love and awe that she can hardly breathe. I want the me that got slowly but deliberately to her feet after losing a loved one- she’s got grit.

And I want the teacher me. And I will not, never ever, let her go.

I am going to gather all these chosen versions of myself together and use my memories to keep them close.

We will stand together, like a chain of paper dolls, holding hands. We will look back and then we will look forward, and we will smile.



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