I was walking my dog the other day down a residential street, head down thinking about all of the sh*t I had to get done that day when all of a sudden I was interrupted. To my left was a sound so unmistakable I stopped walking for a moment. "TAG, YOU"RE IT!" After hearing this, a five year old's belly laugh followed. I truly couldn't help but laugh right back because it was so contagious. A swarm of chubby faced kids darted back and forth through the backyard, the bushes, the front yard, and down the street.
After this real life scene from the little rascals ended, I was nostalgic but also overwhelmed with a real feeling of sadness. My heart actually ached for myself because I realized that simple thrill and joy I once felt all the time as a kid had pretty much dissipated. Why? When? How? Unfortunately, not only have I experienced this phenomenon but almost every adult I've encountered has, too. It's hard to pinpoint when exactly we lose our childish glow, and believe me I don't think it's as clear and simple as I'm about to make it seem, but I have chalked it up to a few significant events or things we encounter as we age.
1. The word “can’t”
This word is diminishing to everyone; however, it is pure poison to kids. When we're little we're told we can be anything and then the dialogue shifts. Instead of being anything we have to think anything within our limits. I'm sorry, but that's pure crap. Limits are set by people and society, and when we follow those incessantly we believe in that toxic word.
So, now that we've gone from telling kids they can be the president or an astronaut to telling them they can study space or politics as long as they can get a guaranteed job out of it, we have officially set their limits before they can test them out on their own. Be like Eddie Morra in the movie, Limitless. The difference is you don't need some pill like Bradley Cooper did, just a new perspective.
Now that we've exhausted the hopes and dreams of our youth it's time to set them in their ways. Structure is necessary; although, structure is meant to be rearranged, torn down, and rebuilt. When we're children we are encouraged to try new experiences and make ourselves a little more uncomfortable: have a playdate with the new kid, try karate, take an art class, create a new game at recess, or join a soccer team.
It was acceptable not to land anywhere or stick with one thing. As we mature we get too comfortable with the things we like and what we're familiar with. The next thing you know you're seventeen and you just spent the last ten years playing a sport you don't even like because you were too scared to break out of your routine. Don't kill your spirit; break your routine.
3. Becoming a sheep
Have you ever seen a flock of sheep before? No? Well, they're a peculiar species that follow whatever they're told, and they have no real say in where they go or what they do. What's even more fascinating is that they don't seem bothered by this. Sound familiar? That's because it is. We all follow whatever seems to be popular. We all do whatever seems to be normal and acceptable.
Children are their own shepherds. They do what they want and they usually stand out amongst a crown. Yes, children are physically smaller and maybe that's why you notice them, but their personalities are generally much larger than most of the adults in the room, and they draw and lead the attention. When we grow up it becomes easier to follow the crowd and lose control of our own herd. We start to follow someone else because everyone else is, we join a certain group because everyone else did, and we say things because everyone says those things too.
There aren't enough shepherds in the adult world. Now, I'm not saying we don't need sheep because without sheep, there would be no shepherds. The problem is that no one is willing to put in the effort to try. My mom would always ask me, "Who is in charge of Julia?" I initially replied, "I don't know, you?" Wrong. My mom reminded me that I am in charge of myself and nobody else has that power. Don't be a sheep; lead yourself.
4. Negative perspective
Kids don't lie. One of the reasons I love children so much is because they are so blunt. So, why is the act of being straightforward frowned upon as adults? My own theory is that as children we have no real malice towards anyone or anything. Their honesty is innocent. However, as adults we immediately jump to the conclusion that people's honesty stems from acrimony.
When did this perspective change? Because of the word can't, our routines, and our timid ways of following things we don't really believe in, our perspective on the world has shifted to a negative outlook. Try to get in the mindset of a child and open your arms and your heart to the world as it once did for you.
5. The imagination resurrection
I mean Jesus Christ, could this article get anymore depressing? I am glad to say that there is hope. We tend to forget that youth is more than just the physical being or your age. Youth is a mindset and we all choose whether or not we believe it or not. I'd like to think I have some juvenility within me. I like to laugh, I have an imagination, and I try my best to make my life fun and flourishing. Do I practice this all the time? Absolutely not. However, our imagination is what saves us.
Our far-fetched ideas and fantastical dreams that we were told we can't achieve are actually in reach. If you have the imagination that you once had as a kid anything is truly possible…and not just the things within our limit. Remember that fort you built as a kid? What if it actually was a restaurant? Resurrect your imagination because we all have the ability to be a kid again.