I recently listened to a podcast by my favorite queen of all queens, Brene Brown. She quoted the renowned psychologist, Carl Jung, “The greatest burden a child must bear is the unlived life of the parents.” 

The first time I heard this, and anytime I read the quote or say it, it hits me like a ton of bricks. This profound insight underscores the importance of all humans, whether parents or childless, to live a life they are proud of. I have also loved seeing the social media trends around our 30s being the new 13. A space where we can love everything that brings us joy without shame or fear of being judged.

As I became a mom of 4, I noticed that it was easy to get lost in the daily tasks to keep these little humans alive. Over the last year, I have been shedding the weight of unfulfilled dreams and embracing my authenticity. No matter your age, my goal in this blog is to help you awaken an era of rediscovering your teenage passion (minus the drama and acne of course). 

I reflected on my journey since hearing Carl Jung’s quote, and came up with three things to get back to my 13-year-old joy.

Get to Know Her Again

Start with an exploration of your past. Dust off old photo albums, flip through weathered diaries and revisit memories that once defined our teenage years. If you’re a millennial mom or older, I am certain you have a scrapbook or at least a FaceBook photo album you can dig up. This process is not merely a stroll down memory lane; it’s an intentional effort to understand and embrace our younger selves’ thoughts, dreams, and aspirations.

My friend Codi Chen just started re-reading old journals to connect with her inner child. She sticks post-it notes throughout the pages with non-judgmental observations and affirmations. By accepting the outcomes of past situations with compassion, she paves the way for healing and self-acceptance.

Codi’s approach, as seen in her Instagram post, is a testament to the transformative power of revisiting our past. By acknowledging the less-than-ideal outcomes, we open ourselves to growth and self-compassion.

 Do the Things She Liked to Do

Rediscovering our 13-year-old selves involves reflecting on the past and actively reintegrating those youthful passions into our present lives. Whether we were enchanted by boy bands, sports, or harbored dreams of gracing the Broadway stage, living in Austin allows these aspirations to be rekindled.

Last year, I signed up for Zilker Theatre Production’s Audition Workshop. I didn’t care if I would be the oldest one there. But learning a dance combo, singing, and acting brought back an energy I hadn’t felt in my day-to-day life in a long time. I gave myself permission to go to concerts and shows and joined local community groups aligned with my interests.

 Platforms like Austin Moms, Women of Austin, KonnectHer, Mama Wears Pants, and more offer opportunities to pursue passions and forge connections with like-minded individuals. I recently joined a spoken word performance group and sang in front of strangers. Something I haven’t done in decades!   

I grew up obsessed with all things cheer, dance, and gymnastics. I will go to an open gym with my kids and throw flips on the trampoline with them. This year I started going to regular adult dance classes. My favorite is Sass and Ass with Heather Haycock. Being able to shake my thing to Brittney, Beyonce, Ariana, and T.Swift has brought a youthful vibe back into my life.

I am honoring my younger self and creating a supportive community that celebrates authenticity.

Listen to Songs That Brought Her Joy:

Music has a transcendent quality that can transport us to specific moments. This was obvious to me when I watched Turning Red and Trolls 3 with my kids. The infectious boyband beats reminded me of my teenage obsession with NSYNC, Usher, Britney Spears, Boys to Men, and Destiny’s Child. I would blast the songs and go full carpool karaoke, driving to work, or picking up the kids from school. Revisiting these songs can evoke emotions and memories associated with a more carefree time.

I recommend making a playlist that would’ve made your teenage self shriek with excitement! This musical journey is not just about nostalgia; it’s a conscious effort to reconnect with the emotions that once colored our adolescent years. I will give you a warning, your kids may tell you to turn it off, stop singing, or label you” Cringe Mom,” but the power of seeing their mom choose authenticity, despite the shame, will be a beacon for them as they grow and will inspire other to not only reach for personal fulfillment but resilience in the face of external judgment.

Embarking on the journey back to our 13-year-old selves is an act of reclaiming lost dreams, shedding societal expectations, and embracing the authenticity that resides within. As we dance to the tunes that once fueled our joy, engage in activities that stirred our passions, and compassionately explore our past, we enrich our lives and pave the way for a more profound influence on the next generation. The unlived life of the parent need not cast a shadow; instead, it can serve as a catalyst for a brighter, more authentic future. So, let’s cringe without fear, dance without inhibition, and rediscover the uninhibited joy within our 13-year-old selves. After all, it’s never too late to live the life we once dreamed of.

Zana Carbajal
Zana is wife to Esteban and mama to her four children, Joaquin, Teodoro, and twins Roma & Rosalind. She is a Senior Retail Technology Manager and Co-host of The Strong Sunflowers & Los Girasoles Fuertes podcasts. She was a competitive cheerleader at Hawaii Pacific University, where she pursued her Bachelor’s in Public Relations and Advertising. She is currently working on an online Master’s in Global Strategic Communications from The University of Florida (Go Gators!) She advocates for whole-hearted living and constantly looks for ways to improve her mind, body, heart, and soul. She loves songwriting, singing, and musical theatre and has already warned her kids when they are all over 18+; she is moving to New York City to audition for Broadway.


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