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Our experiences growing up play a significant part in moulding our minds to progress forward into adulthood. They provide perspectives and different emotions which impact the way we see ourselves and everything around us. Throughout our time as children and early youths, what we experience build character in us, and pushes us forward to become who we are when we grow up. They can range from the little things, to much more significant ones. As kids, we do not yet know what to prioritise, what the right way to feel is, how to react, and how to approach events that occur. There is a level of obliviousness and innocence in which acts as a tool to how our early years form. We do not yet know what it means to be sympathetic to others, the impact our actions cause, how to create strong bonds with our family and friends, and what our personality is. Everything that forges our mind and body is caused by external factors and how our younger selves react to such experiences.
As a child, we just want to be happy doing everything that we love to do, and elude any form of complications that we could never fully grasp. We were easily content, and on the other spectrum, easily fazed by simple setbacks. Growing up is subjective, but the most important things that help identify what we grow up to be is our environment, the people we interact with and learn from, and our internal feelings towards youth life as a whole.
Childhood trauma in my perspective, comes from the lack of understanding on why bad things are happening to us. What we don’t know triggers a part of us that just makes us want to escape from it all. When we are young, we only know happiness and sadness, and nothing deeper in between. Everything that happens just ends up with these two states of emotions. When things that confuse our young minds happen as a child, namely the bad experiences, we tend to cling on to those memories because we subconsciously identify those as experiences with no closure or reason behind them. This is where trauma occurs, and stays with us into adulthood.
Growing up, our environment plays a huge part in building our experiences. From home to school, to places we frequent as well as new surroundings that we enter, these all create new perspectives. When our environment poses negativity, trauma builds. Being forced to stay and thrive in places where we felt extremely uncomfortable in can include church, school, places for activities that was forced on us, even home. Being pushed without a choice to experience these places which as children, we hated being a part of, creates trauma in us because it went against what we expected our lives to be for ourselves. Yes, these examples of environments can be and are mostly good, but the main issue was that we didn’t have a choice to begin with. Without consciously choosing where we wanted to be, it instilled anxiety and caused us to feel that we couldn’t live for ourselves, but instead had to live for what other people wanted for us. We wanted to live our lives in places that inspired us, that made us feel like we belonged.
Granted, when we were really young, we didn’t really know for sure where we wanted to be or even what we wanted in general, but as mentioned, we just wanted to be happy, and when we weren’t in certain environments, this created trauma which brought forward into our adult lives, in the form of the lack of conscious choice. When a similar environment is introduced to us in adulthood, like for example, a company function which we dread, our trauma surfaces and it not only affects our emotions, but also poses as a significant issue of how we externalise the same new experience. Personally, I felt that being forced to be somewhere where I didn’t have any choice or say in being, created trauma up till present as an adult, because when such similar situations occur, it brings me back years ago to a time where discomfort and anxiety seemed like a norm, and just something I had to keep to myself. Basically, the trauma of being comfortable in the complete opposite of emotions.
Our relationships with family, friends, and people around us can also breed trauma. Family is supposed to be there for you throughout your formative years, and support you in your journey into adulthood. As perfect as it is supposed to be, majority of the time, that’s not the case. Family, namely our parents, can only do so much with their experience on raising their children. The imparting of knowledge, perspectives, and emotional skillset rubs on us as children, and that’s great, but on the other hand, as children we take these experiences with a pinch of salt and our innocence precedes our intended growth. Trauma in this genre forms when expectations of us as youths don’t meet our family’s standards, or just don’t tally with who they wanted us to be. Our failures and setbacks as our younger selves prove to be disappointments and unintended character building to our parents’ eyes. This is natural as they want the best for us, but more often than not, these glorified traits may not be what we even want. Thus, there’s a constant struggle to prove ourselves to be good and right for our family, and this is brought forward when we are adults. This causes an instilling of the fear of letting people down, and not meeting the expectations of the people we interact with in our adult lives.
Friends and the people we meet in our early years play a huge part in contributing to trauma as well. Being external relationships, specifically people that aren’t of blood, we naturally expected the interactive experiences to be mostly positive, as we more or less had the choices of who we wanted to be with and around. This can be said to be the polar opposite, as in this case, we are let down by our choices of interactions, and these people who we thought were good for us end up being a catalyst to our disappointment. When we are let down by these friends and peers, it makes us tread on eggshells around people in general. It makes us extra cautious in choosing our friends and acquaintances, and that carries forward into adulthood, where maturity and an influx of experienced personalities exist.
As we get older, we tend to be given the chance to choose our peers more, and choose who we want in our lives. But the trauma from disappointment as kids prior to adulthood makes us afraid to keep a stronger bond with people in present, solely based on the fear of being let down again. This is a genre of trauma that makes us unable to be open to people, and stay tucked in our own social bubble. As humans, we naturally need some sort of positive interaction with each other, and this prevents that to the point of triggering depression, loneliness, and internal negativity. To fight this trauma, we have to learn to set the bar a little lower, but more importantly, understand that our perspectives are our own, and we have to learn to accept those of our peers. Additionally, purging those that are bad for us seems tragic, but it is something that needs to be done in order to evade recurring trauma in this case.
When we are children, our emotions are tools to build our place in this world. Our formative years need to exude experiences that build our personality when we grow up to fend for ourselves. All these mentioned factors of childhood trauma is terrible at a glance, but ultimately, negative traits also contributes to experience as a whole. We owe it to ourselves not to ignore the past, but to learn from it. Understanding our trauma will help us to identify our emotions and the way we react, and ultimately push us to be at peace with the past, and use it as a tool to elevate who we are and who we want to be for ourselves as well as for the people around us.
A Word From A Space Between
Traumatic experiences shape who we grow up to be, and lingers in our minds for better or worse. To face these moments head on, we need to accept the past, and look forward to a brighter future where we are the only one in control of how we want to live.
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