That’s not to say I won’t have happy years ahead, in fact I see many happy years when I am older and settling down maybe with a family, maybe on my own. But my happiest, peak of it all, purest moments are gone. I look at photos of my childhood and I see a child so in love with the world. A child that holds trust in the world and believes that good people exist and bad people are just made up in the stories read to me. By about age seven I had seen and heard of enough bad things to know that the world could be kind, but the people were not.
I was always a quizzical child – questions being asked by my peers now, I posed as a child. This is not a humble brag, this is a factor in my loss of trust in the world. I was always asking questions and wanting answers, and when my questions where “why is the sun bright?” they held answers. The sun is bright because it’s a star burning due to it’s nuclear fusion (or some other scientific answer). But when I grew a little older, maybe age seven or eight, my questions became philosophical. Why do people do bad things? Why are some bad things excused and others punished? What is right and what is wrong? Who gets to decide that? No one had answers for me. No one had the answers themselves but they didn’t seem to mind. They went about life like it didn’t matter. How could these fundamental facts not matter? They are what makes humans function the way they do. And so my quest for answers began too early. I never really enjoyed things. There were always questions to follow and wonders that never ended.
I remember asking my babysitter at the time if they ever wondered what their life would be like if they were in the place of someone else. Would they still like the same foods? Would they still believe the same things? When you became someone else did everything about your personality change too? And my babysitter thought I was crazy. I remember her tone and I instantly knew these questions weren’t meant to be asked. She said she didn’t know, she didn’t care. Maybe it was her fault, maybe it was mine. Maybe the world is just a horrible place and no one is to blame. But that day was like a knife to my heart and I decided that day to never ask those kinds of questions again. I stopped asking her, held her hand and skipped merrily to the store. It still bubbled inside me though. The question. Still does. But at least now I’m old enough to know that circumstances create personalities. So if you were born in their life, yes, your personality would be different. Maybe you would still hold parts of it, but ultimately you would not be yourself.
My life from then became a big series of unanswered questions that were never even asked. I stopped questioning everything. Did everything that I was told, and stuffed the questions so far down in me that I hoped never to see them again. All the wonder and pure enjoyment from childhood was gone before I even really began. I was having an existential crisis at age five, six, seven – I still am. The one question that
I will never have answers for is the one I keep asking. Why. Why was I the one who had to have such philosophical thoughts as a child? Why didn’t I get to enjoy it like others did? Why was I always pondering the greater life? Why me? I’m sure some other kid out there would have been a much better candidate. Maybe a scientist who would have discovered why we exist the way we do. Instead, it was me. A small kid who had no idea what to do, and only wanted to please everyone around her.
I definitely feel cheated from my childhood, but at the same time it was the happiest – albeit shortest – moments of my life. When people talk about their childhood they can mean anywhere from birth until thirteen. When I talk about my childhood, I mean from birth until six. After that I didn’t feel much like a child. I had too big of questions, too much unanswered. I was a kid facing questions adults face today. No wonder I didn’t feel like a kid. If you asked me at the time I would have told you I did. I thought everyone felt like this. I thought these were questions every kid had. Until I grew older and realised that they weren’t. Whether they hadn’t cared or whether they just hadn’t thought about it didn’t matter. The fact is I was a child having adult thoughts and I never got to have questions that had answers. It wasn’t fair. It still isn’t.