What’s in the heart of your 5-year-old self?

‘Croc hunting might be something you carry in your heart when you’re five,’ wrote my friend in her message.

She’d just been to Australia Zoo, the creation of the late Steve Irwin, Crocodile Hunter, with her husband and children. Our conversation had been sparked by a photo of her five year old son taken at the zoo. Dressed in Crocodile Hunter clothes head to toe, he was standing inside the jaws of a giant crocodile replica, giving the thumbs up gesture, while his cherubic face oozed self-assuredness and joy. He was in his happy place.

My friend’s comment made me think about what I carried in my heart when I was five years old, some of which is still there, and always will be. The age of five is a magical time in life; we live in the moment, we know who we are and we know what we like with a degree of certainty that later deserts us. I believe each of us still has part of our five year old self within in us, even if we’ve perhaps lost touch with it, or disowned it.

As adults we behave differently towards five year old’s than we do towards other adults. We’re more patient and reassuring. We want children to thrive, so we encourage them to be curious and to explore the world so they can learn and grow. Our focus is on helping them become themselves.

As children grow it becomes increasingly important for them to fit in. We teach them conformity and self-responsibility because the world’s a challenging place and we want them to survive. The focus gradually shifts from becoming yourself to becoming like others in order to succeed in a competitive word.

By the time we’re adults it’s likely we won’t ever again experience the type of encouragement and support we received as five year old’s. It’s also likely that we’ve become disconnected from the Crocodile Hunter in our heart. I call it the Mary Poppins effect.

What was in my heart when I was five-years old?

I wasn’t going to tell you as I’m a little embarrassed – and perhaps ashamed. But then that’s the point of this article; it’s there regardless. So why deny it?

My five-year-old heart has an actress in it.

I’ve recently liberated her by getting public speaking coaching. I’ve learned how to step out from behind the professional facade I erected over the past 30 years and be myself in front of an audience. Because I’m naturally very introverted, I had to push myself – I felt the fear and did it anyway. Now I’m no longer terrified. I’m liberated.

What’s in your five-year-old heart that you’ve lost touch with?

I encourage you to explore it, take it our for a spin and get back in touch with it. After all, it’s part of who you really are.

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