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how to reclaim your muchness

 

reclaim your muchness()
 
  

As I mentioned last week in the post "Wonderland's Wisdom: 5 Life Lessons from Alice's Adventures," I went to see Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland last Friday. Overall, I thought it was pretty great, but one part in particular really stuck out to me. In one scene, the Mad Hatter is talking to Alice and telling her that the last time she visited Wonderland (this film is based on her second trip down the rabbit hole), she was "much muchier" and this time around she seemed to have lost her "muchness." According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, muchness means "the quality or state of being in great quantity, extent, or degree." What the Mad Hatter was talking about, in his odd and slightly hysterical way, was that Alice had lost some of who she used to be. He was inferring that she had lost some of the true essence of herself as she'd grown older.

How many of us feel that we have lost some of ourselves as we've grown older? How many of us, as children, were afraid to grow up because we believed we would become less than we were? Afraid that we would become some sort of shadowed, boring, adult version of ourselves? And how many of us did just that? When I think back to who I was as a child, I see both the me and the not-me. I see myself as a different person and yet exactly the same. In some ways I still feel that wonderment and excitement of childhood, especially lately as I open myself up more to experiencing the world and have refused to stop shutting things out with my negativity. However, in other ways, I feel that I have aged well-beyond my twenty-six years (which, to be honest, is not an entirely new feeling for me; I have always felt much older than I really am). As a kid, I always wanted to grow-up because I felt much more comfortable in the world of adults -- and yet I don't feel as though I ever fully did grow up, though technically most would consider me of adult age. One of my favorite quotes, by Margaret Atwood, goes something like this: "Everyone else my age is an adult, whereas I am merely in disguise." That's how I feel most of the time.

As I've gotten older (and have yet to have that full-blown I'm-an-adult feeling), I started thinking about who I considered an adult. First thing that came to mind, not surprisingly, was my parents. I once asked my mom when she finally felt like an adult and she told me it was when she had kids. I often wonder if one must be surrounded my non-adults to actually feel like an adult... and I wonder how this works when you surround yourself with those who don't behave like adults... and how does it work if you yourself are not behaving like an adult? We all know what it means in the technical sense to be an adult, but what I'm wondering is: what is it that we lose when we grow up? Like Alice, are we losing some of our essence -- some of our muchness -- as we get older?

I don't know about you, but I don't want to lose my muchness. Much like Alice did in the film, I feel indignant about the fact that I could lose some of what I was simply by growing older. (Is that, I wonder, what we really all fear as we age -- not the fact that we will grow old but the fact that we will grow up?). I understand that we must all age and that we actually gain a lot from age (I, for one, have learned so much already and I don't suppose I'm really all that old yet), but just because we grow older doesn't mean we have to lose site of who we used to be. After all, that childhood self is who we were born to be, quite literally. 

Today I plan to take some time to figure out what really is my muchness and whether or not, as I've grown older, I've lost some of that essence of who I was as a child. Of course there are things we did as children that we wouldn't want to do as adults, but when you get down the essence of who you were -- the heart of what you thought you would be -- what do you come up with? What of that essence have you lost? As I think about this today, I'm going to contemplate the following questions... 


6 Questions To Help You Reclaim Your Muchness

 

  1. What did I like to do when I was younger?  When you think about what you liked to do as a kid you may be surprised that you still like to do those things. Often the things we like as kids are the things we like our whole lives (I certainly know that's true for me when it comes to reading and writing!). Give some thought to this and you'll uncover a lot about the essence of who you are. What you liked to do then says a lot about the kind of person you were.

  2. Why did I stop doing or continue to do those things?  Some people continue to do the things they loved when they were kids. Some people even make careers out of those things (as I someday hope to do). But often times people stop doing the things they loved to do when they were kids. Think about what you did as a kid and whether or not you still do it (and why).

  3. Who did I think I would be when I grew up?  When you think about who you thought you would be, you'll learn about the things that were important to you as a kid. Of course, in some cases, you can't incorporate these things into your adult life all that easily. But, for example, if you wanted to be a professional basketball player, think about why you wanted to be that person. What did you think that grown-up would have?

  4. How am I like that fictional version of myself?  When you think back on that childhood ideal of who you were going to be, also take some time to consider how you might actually be like that person. You might not be exactly what you thought you would be, but you may be closer than you think. For example, I always thought I'd be a famous journalist of some sort (which I'm clearly not), but I do spend most of my time writing so I'm really not that far off.

  5. What attitudes and beliefs did I hold as a kid?  This is the most important question. Though it's essential to examine what you liked to do and who you thought you would be, the most important thing to consider is what your beliefs were as a child. What ideals were important to you. In Alice, the Mad Hatter thinks Alice has lost some of her bravery and gumption because she grew older. Consider how you may have acted as a child and then ponder...

  6. How have my attitudes and beliefs changed?  As we grow and learn, it's no surprise that some of our values will change. We understand that the world is a complex place and not everything falls neatly into a "good" or "bad" category. But think about how your beliefs may have changed since you were a kid. What attitudes did you have then that you may not have now? I know personally that I believed a lot more in my adult-self back then than I do now and that's something I certainly want to get back to.

 


It's normal not to be the same person we were in childhood, but is it necessary to lose the true essence of who we once were? I think not. When I saw that seen in Alice in Wonderland it really reminded me of how we change between the time we are born and the time we are adults. Change is good, but not all change is good. Just as the Mad Hatter claimed Alice had, many of us lose our "muchness." Maybe of us lose sight of what we're really meant to be. Give some thought to these questions this weekend and see if you can once again reclaim your muchness.

 

Comments

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This is fantastic! We do tend to lose a little bit of ourselves as we grow older. A lot of times we suppress that innocent, adventurous side of ourselves for a more "practical" grown-up version. I will definitely be looking into these questions this weekend to see how I can regain some of my muchness! Have a great weekend!

Nailah - We can lose sight of some of the essence of who we are as we get older. I'm glad you'll take some time to think about the questions this weekend. I know I'll be doing the same. :)

Hey, I don't comment very often, but I just wanted to let you know that I really love your blog. It is one of the most inspiration and insightful blogs that I have every come across.

Anyway, I'm also a huge Alice in Wonderland fan, and really have been thinking about the "muchness" factor as well! I do think parts of ourselves get lost as we get older, often because we become more afraid, more cynical, and inclined to adopt many of the qualities expected of us. For example, as a child, I was obsessed with animals, and this intersected with my love of reading and drawing. When I was 8 years old, I decided I wanted to study humpback whales, and learn about how baby whales learn to be adult whales, and what their songs. But by the end of high school and beginning of college, I was pre-med and following an expectation that I'd consciously and unconsciously internalized... it took a while for me to discover that my real passion was still there, and by the end of college, I'd found my path in studying primates (and I have done projects on social development and vocalizations, which suggests that I really knew for sure what I was interested in at the age of 8).

Also, I feel like "muchness" in terms of being myself at my best, is something that only emerges when I'm with my close friends. Without people (and my definition of "people" does include animals!) that I love, that get me, I really retreat into a kind of black-and-white version of my normally-bright-colored-self (if that makes sense). The same is also true when I'm seriously depressed, which usually tends to correspond with missing those sort of relationships (I've had a lot of moving around, which makes it hard sometimes).

For me it was quite the opposite...I am more Me now, then I was then. I've gained in my muchness, and hope to continue to grow it more!

I remember feeling as if I had lost some "muchness" (what a fabulous term!) and then over the last 8 years, becoming much more myself - and all the happier for it. I simply love this post! Thank you!

In the last 6 months or so I think I've made huge leaps to regaining my muchness. I've been more open, honest, and I've started writing again, which has really improved how I view life. I hope my muchness continues to grow! You certainly seem on the right path

These are all insightful questions, but the one that's got me thinking the most is who did I think I would be when I grew up. Way back when, I wanted to be a nurse. Why, because I wanted nothing more than to help people who needed to be helped. Along the way I got talked out of that and into a more lucrative but less personally (for me) satisfying profession. While I've managed to steer myself towards the helping part of my profession, I've realised that it's just not enough any more. So, to reclaim my "muchness" I need to figure out how to get back to helping those who need my help. I'm slowly getting back on track, but this question has helped me to crystalise what I was doing intuitively. Thanks for that!

I've been thinking about this idea a lot lately, realizing that some of the things I loved most as a child - dancing, doing theater - have been lost to me for years, and it is time to just get out of my comfort zone and reclaim them!

As a coach, I'm always struck by how often when I start working clients and ask them to recall a time when they felt really fulfilled, at ease, in the flow, like their best self....they recall a time from early in life. This is true whether they are 30 or 60. And they are often embarrassed to say...."I'm thinking of a time from high school, or college, or grade school" - they assume they should have a more recent peak experience to draw upon. But many people don't find a way to incorporate the things they love most into their adult life.

I wholeheartedly agree that what we love and who we are as children tells us a lot about who we were born to be.

Warmly, Tara

Hi Dani, Some of what I had as a child such as a love of learning is still with me and seemingly just as strong. Much of what I have lost is that youthful idealism that you can make a difference. I've become a lot more pessimistic and cynical.

Michelle - Thank you so much for your comment! It was great to hear what you had to add to the post -- and you added some pretty great stuff! It was great to learn more about you and your ideas of muchness. Like you, I consider animals to be "people," and could really relate to a lot of what you wrote in your comment. Thank you so much for sharing it!

Dawn - That's really interesting! I feel like that too sometimes -- that I am more comfortable and therefore more myself than I was years ago. I hope you continue to gain more and more of your muchness!

Nona - It's so great that you're growing more in touch with your muchness. It's a wonderful thing!

Liz - I'm happy to hear that you're in the zone of reclaiming your muchness. Being open, honest, and doing what you love to do really will help your muchness to grow!

Topi - It sounds like you're really on the right path to reclaiming your muchness. Most people don't even think about it, but you're already thinking about it at a high level and uncovering the fact that you need to get back to what it was that you used to love. I'm so glad this post was helpful for you!

Tara - It's definitely time to reclaim the things you used to love! There's no time like the present! Many people don't even think about the things they used to love, let alone try to incorporate them into their lives and it's great that you're willing to break out of your comfort zone and start thinking about this!

Stephen - I agree that it's hard not to become cynical as an adult. This is something I've struggled with a lot and only recently am starting to realize is more of a choice than anything. I can choose to be positive and, likewise, I can choose to focus on the things that bring me the most joy. I can definitely see that your love of learning is still strong, which is awesome!

Hey Dani,
I don't want to lose my muchness either. And I think, for a while there, I definitely did. It's been coming back...and it's a wonderful feeling.

Lance - I know what you mean. I think for awhile I lost mine too and I don't want that to happen again. I'm so glad your muchness is coming back! :)

I like the muchness, much and muchier ideas ... I'll munch on that for a bit.

Here are a few guidelines I've used growing up:
- don't be a has-been who never was
- grow old like a fine wine and get better with age
- follow the growth -- you're growing or dying

J.D. - Great insights! Thanks for sharing them. I particularly like "follow the growth." That's a great rule to live by!

My attitudes and beliefs were naive. I was a pretty innocent child. I think that somewhere along the line I realized that life wasn't a fairy tale and that it would have to be what I made it. I have always been determined and courageous. I still am today.

Syd - It's great that you've kept some of your qualities as you've gotten older. You bring up a great point about being naive. There are parts of myself that I would like to return to, but being naive certainly isn't something I would like to be again.

I actually googled 'muchness' to see if anyone had given it any thought. Seems You had! :)
Iv been thinking a lot lately about who i really am, and who i want to be, and your insights have given me a bit of inspiration on how to find 'me', by looking back on my childhood. I certainly have lost much of my muchness, though there have been a great many gains since then too.
Thanks to you, i hope to regain some of my lost muchness in due time, so as to become a fully integrated person... Oh by the way, i am totally in love with the hatter!:)

Psyche - That's great that you found this post by Googling "muchness"! I'm really glad that you found this post inspiring and I hope it helps you to reclaim some of your muchness. I'm a big fan of the hatter too! :)

I'm so happy I stumled upon your blog! A bit of inspiration to lead a more positive life is just what i need. So thank you, muchly!

I was lucky to stumble on your post, thank you.

Carina - I'm so happy you found this post. It's one of my favorites. Hope to see more of you on Positively Present!

Keep the wonder, mix with reality, and always listen to your gut feeling :-)

If you choose to have kids, don't put yourself last. I decided when I was 8 that kids weren't for me, which (in my opinion) has made my life that much muchier :-)

Cool blog, PP :-)

Kath - Wonderful ideas! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on muchness. I'm happy you found the blog and this post!

I enjoyed your post regarding "muchness". I'm preparing a message and I wanted to quote your blog and realized there was no name to give credit to. I hope you don't mind.

Isn't it amazing how that line in the movie struck a chord in so many hearts? I know it did mine, and as I grow older (51 yikes!) I find I'm want to regain my muchness, thus the message I am writing. I find the more I aspire to be like Jesus (no, I'm not a religious freak), the more He brings my muchness to the surface. He inhances my muchness, not squelches it.

At any rate. Thanks form the quote, it made my intro!

Melanya - Thank you for your comment. I would love for you to quote the blog. You can give credit to Dani at www.positivelypresent.com. If you could email (see Contact tab) the link to your message to me, that would be great! I also think it's amazing that the line in the film could reach so many people. Words have the ability to touch so many lives.

After seeing AIWL one thing that stood out the most is when Hatter told Alice she was losing her muchness. I recently mentioned to my sister I felt I was losing my muchness. Like others I googled - I tend to google almost anything I give this much thought to. Now, after this brilliant blog I know I'm not losing it at all - I'm adding to it! Thanx. Very refreshing.

Kornflake - I'm so happy that you found this post and it helped to remind you that you're not losing your muchness. The concept of muchness is an amazing one and I'm so happy we could both relate to it. Thanks for leaving a comment!

I have been sporadically following your blog for a year now, but came across this post only today.

I love how you've elaborated on the whole idea of 'muchness'. The comments on this post were very insightful too.

I really want to try out your '6 question to help you reclaim your muchness' but am scared of what my answers would be. I somehow feel like I am not ready to face it.

Swatir24 - Thanks for reading Positively Present! I'm happy to hear that you came across this post (one of my favorites!). As you said, it can be scary to really tap into our true selves and figure out what we really, truly want in life -- but I've found that more I focus on my muchness, the happier I am!

Wow I also just found this post by randomly googling muchness and I'm really glad I did. I've actually been thinking about this a lot lately and I couldn't figure out what to call it til I thought about muchness again. Even though I'm only 21 I already feel as if I've lost some of my muchness in just the few years since graduating high school. Like you I've always felt older than I am and I guess in feeling that way I pushed myself to do "the right thing" with jobs/school instead of the things that really make me happy. In trying to please everyone else I seem to have lost some of my awesome muchness along the way. Reading this post and the "revisiting your muchness" post has made me really want to find that again and do what makes ME happy not just the ones around me. I definitely need to think about those questions now. So thank you for this :)

Aaron - I'm so glad you found it too! The concept of muchness really intrigues me and it's great to know that others are interested in it as well. I'm 28 and I've found that it was only in recent years that I was able to reclaim my muchness, most of which was lost in my teens and early 20s. Definitely figure out what makes you happy and focus on making that a priority in your life. Don't let anyone or anything hold you back. Best of luck reclaiming your muchness!

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