We like to think that other people couldn’t possibly know us better than we know ourselves. But for at least part of our lives, and at least in retrospect, this is untrue.
How much do you really remember about yourself and your experiences and your actions when you were 5 years old? 3 years old? 1 year old? 6 months? Probably not much. We either forget or block out the experiences of our earliest lives (ah, the embarrassment), or else we simply weren’t conscious enough to file them away as memories. I’ve even forgotten things that happened less than a decade back.
To understand what we were like at our younger ages, we’re dependent on a few home videos and the testimony of all our parents, aunts, uncles, and family friends who knew us when we were smallest.
This creates a bit of a conundrum: often we’re quite embarrassed to find out what we did and said and thought when we were much younger. I know I was a wacky kid, and sometimes the things I did make me cringe now. But as I’ve come to embrace that I’m just a wacky grown-up, I’ve become more comfortable with learning these stories.
What’s more, I’ve become more urgently interested in understanding myself. And without the testament of my early life, I feel like I’m missing something.
These were the years in which my foundational urges formed up. These were years that shaped me in ways I don’t even remember. So there’s got to be something to understanding and knowing the little version of me. And with the people who knew me then growing old, or even passing away, I fear missing out on their insight.
So I have been listening (and smiling) more when my parents tell me about how I made them laugh (or cry) when I was younger. I’ve been enjoying the home videos. And I’ve been remembering more. You should, too, while you still can.