Art by Michal Perlman-Sluk: Akko

Returning to My Childhood Essence

By Shoshana Friedman

I began to want again...

Picking up a tennis racket at the age of 31 was the trigger to jump-starting the journey to my authentic self. In order to go forward in my life, I first had to leap backwards into my childhood.


My life was feeling murky. A year had passed since my ex and I broke up and I was disconnected and isolated – not from others, but from myself. I couldn’t tell you what I liked or what I wanted; there was no longer any drive or zest. I wasn’t hopeless, but I had certainly shut off a major part of my essence. Passions were replaced with shrugs and apathy was the dominant emotion that ruled me from the inside out.


The journey to my authentic self, as grandiose as that sounds, started with going backwards. Since I was so detached from my present self, I looked back to remember a time I felt unadulterated joy. What was something that I loved in my youth?


I first recalled my childhood love of tennis. Granted, I was no kid phenom on the court, but I remembered how much fun I had. Almost every summer from the age of ten to seventeen, I would take tennis classes beginning with the basics and gradually finessing my skills. The sport also held sentimental value as my now departed grandparents were hitting the court well into their eighties. I fondly remembered spring evenings where my Dad and I would set up at a court in the neighborhood and just hit balls back and forth.


At the age of 31, equipped with my grandpa’s racquet, I signed up for a tennis class right by my house. I was quite rusty, and playing with a twenty-year old tennis racquet wasn’t the path towards tennis domination, but damn I felt invigorated. I looked forward to my weekly lessons where I relearned old techniques and challenged myself both physically and emotionally. I began to want again, and the hazy listlessness of the past year began to slowly dissipate.


Playing tennis instilled in me a newfound confidence. It granted me the courage to step out of my comfort zone as I realized that I am who I always was, I just needed to reconnect with a part of my childhood as this was my true authentic self, or at least an aspect of it.


With this newfound knowledge, I went back to the things that made me happy as a kid but that I had long since abandoned. Tennis was my springboard to acting in a play, a dream and passion that was discarded for many years. Garnering the courage to audition and then perform on stage in front of a live audience gave me an experience that I never thought I would have again. I started to really feel and I began to want again. This lead me to new opportunities and opened  doors that I had previously thought closed. Going backwards into my childhood allowed me to reclaim a piece of myself, and it inspired me to strive beyond the me that I was – all thanks to a neon green ball.

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