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Know Yourself Better: What Does Your Play Say?

APRIL 1, 2016

What did you enjoy doing when you were around ages 9-11?  What lit you up? Or made you lose track of time? What was your ‘play’ like? You may have heard this before, but what we loved playing when we were around 10 years old can tell us a lot about who we are now.

This came up for me in a recent conversation and I had a lot of fun recounting all of the interesting ways I spent my free time and especially my creative methods of bossing my two younger sisters around as a Type A ‘tweener. Some of my fondest memories include…

· Sally Sillysocks: This was one of several little businesses I dreamed up. It was based on a character called Sally Sillysocks, whose claim to fame was that she was always wearing – you got it- very. silly. socks. I envisioned marketing her in storybooks, starring in her own cartoon, as a doll, on greeting cards and various other applications. It never got beyond the initial sketches, but it was a fun project and dream.

· Particular Personalizing: Quite a catchy business name, isn't it? With 2 other girlfriends I created a neighborhood business offering to personalize (with paint pens) various items for our customers. You remember this from the 80’s – the trendy, perky lettering with lots of dots.  We distributed fliers in the neighborhood, but I think our only customers were our moms.

· Hair Salon Receptionist: I created a master appointment book and made my sisters call me repeatedly and schedule hair appointments. I would do this for hours. Nobody ever actually came in for a hair cut, I just liked scheduling them.

· Mailman:  For this activity, I would make my sisters each sit in their rooms at their desks and I would sit at mine and we would create mail for each other. It could be a letter, picture, anything we felt like making. We each crafted a mailbox that hung in our bedroom doorways and, once we had finished a piece of 'mail', we would become the ‘mailman’ and deliver it to another sister's mailbox.

· Putting on Shows: I often produced, let's call them "variety shows", which usually included a series of songs, choreographed dance routines, skits and playing of musical instruments by my sisters and I. We performed these on special occasions, such as Mother's Day and Father's Day. And on Thanksgiving, I always insisted on my sisters and I performing a reading of a dreadfully boring paper about the pilgrims coming to America on The Mayflower. My poor parents patiently endured it year after year. (Painfully, much of this has been recorded.)

· Summer Reading List: I have many fond memories of sitting curled up in my bedroom in my bright blue beanbag chair poring through my summer reading list. My favorite authors were Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and Lois Duncan. I also loved Nancy Drew. I savored the satisfaction of filling up my summer book list as I read them, one by one.

· SMT Line:  I can’t believe I’m sharing this one, but it’s sadly captured on a very early VHS recording so I can’t deny it. I invented the SMT line (with the unfortunate pronunciation of ‘Smut Line’), which represented me (Sara) and and my sisters Maria and Trisha. At any point in the day if I were to yell ‘SMT Line’ they were to come running and line up behind me, in age order, and follow me wherever I led them. This may have been slightly earlier than age 9-11, I hope, but a very vibrant memory nonetheless.

So, there you have it - my favorite memories of play. What do they tell me about myself? Based on that sampling, I suppose I can see why I have been drawn towards creating my own business for some time. And why I feel happy when I can express my creative side and when I am scheduling or planning things. I thrive on meaningful communication with others. I love to grow and learn. And I suppose with my SMT line, I showed early signs of leadership :)

I think the reason that this particular snapshot in time is so telling is because it’s the age we started becoming a little more independent and developing our true interests and values, but it’s usually before we started adapting or succumbing to the influences of our peers, social groups and pressures from society. It’s us in our purest form.

What does your play say about you? What can you take from those childhood experiences and add to your grown-up world to bring you more fulfillment and flow?

Who knows, maybe there is still a place for Sally Sillysocks in the world…

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