Developmental psychologist Erik Erickson discussed specific life stages. There are tasks to be accomplished at each stage before moving on to the next. Toddlers are called to assert independence; school-aged children to discover their place in community; young adults to risk intimacy. Of course, we never master these completely, and thus we may be stunted in future stages.
When I look back at my life, there are people who went by my name with whom I feel I have little in common. I think of the person I was at 15, at 24, at 32. Sometimes they seem complete strangers.
Recently I’ve become reacquainted with a college friend through Facebook. She contacted me out of the blue and I am delighted to be in touch. Jo Anna is a practicing artist, who teaches at the University of South Carolina. I have the credentials to do the same, but was never able to pull that one off.
This is a theme on which I’ve been reflecting lately, and now, with synchronicity, I am visited by a friend of that former self. That self was so fragile and insecure, yet I recognize her as my own. I’ve traveled other paths and had other successes, but honoring my creative gifts has not been an easy thing. This is a lesson calling me from 30 years ago, a lesson I thought I had moved beyond.
Erickson’s stages most certainly exist, but I don’t believe they are linear. The lovely thing about refriending Jo Anna is how much we have in common today, despite the fact we’ve traveled separate paths. There must be some integrity of personality, after all. So hello to my 20-something self, back after such a long departure. I think I’ve gained a few insights that might just help you out.