In my last post, I talked about my nephews and how they will spend their toddler years being unapologetically themselves. I’m no parent, but I would have to guess that one of the blessings of having children is that you get insight into how it is to be a kid again. I very much want to go back to days where we were more carefree. People demean such thoughts as childish. I’d like to think it’s more about being childlike. The best part about children is that they are pure in intention, authentic, and get excited about the unknown. Very much the opposite of an adult, right?
We are made to believe that growing up is a promotion. At least, that’s how I felt when I finished kindergarten. It’s like as we get older, we start to look past who we are as kids because that no longer matters anymore. We’re grown now. The truth is, we grow in layers. The layers we call our adulthood is placed on top of our childhood. Kind of make sense when many of us go to therapy to dig deep within ourselves to heal childhood trauma. It doesn’t go away.
The reason why I would rather see myself as childlike instead of childish is because we need maturity. The more that we know, the more that we are responsible for knowing. Our rationality or discernment should never come into question in the hopes to become more childlike. So, what are some ways to help you think and act more like a child?
Start With Why?
No, this isn’t an excerpt from Simon Sinek. This is a call to action to know your motivations. What’s the most annoying question a child seems to always ask? Why? First, it tells us that children alway stay curious. They also want to know why they are told to do what they do, or say what to say. As we get older and more authority is presented to us, we lose our why to fear. Everything that we do is either obligation or unconsciousness. We don’t really know why we do what we do anymore.
I feel like I talk about authenticity a lot. I think it’s one of my tenants and something I’m trying to grow into. Children are authentic because that’s the only thing they know. At young ages, these kids don’t even know how to spell hypocrisy. It’s not a word that is a part of their vocabulary. Again, our expectations of each other drives us to things like people pleasing. Correction of social norms creates fake personas for you and I. Children know who they are because that’s all they are. What if we got back to doing the things we want to do. There’s nothing wrong with receiving correction, just as long as the correction speaks to our heart.
Delight in Everything
I know this sense of self has left me. As adults, we’re pretty much expected to know everything. In that case, we are never in wonder of things we don’t know. It’s just another fact we can check of the list. When a baby is born, everything is new. Every experience is new. What if we got back to that kind of wonder? What if I could go to work and every meeting was a discovery, more than figuring out how to make myself look stupid in front of people? We’re told to have discipline by maintaining routines, but what’s the point of that if you can never discover anything new? Maybe next time you take a different route on your commute. Read a book you could never see yourself reading. The world is infinite, but we choose to put ourselves in such a bubble.
My nephews are definitely spontaneous. They’ll do just about whatever as long as they stay in the boundaries in which their mother tells them. It kind of feels like nothing is off limits. I feel like we lose this feeling as we get older and fear creeps in. Maybe the fear is warranted. I have a friend who was spontaneous enough to walk the streets of New York at night by herself. When you read that you probably think of the many things that could go wrong in that scenario. Maybe there is a bit of a risk tolerance, but I think this type of overthinking stops us from doing the things we want. Going for that job we don’t think we’re qualified for, or asking that person you see every day. It’s easy for a child to ask another child if they would like to play. Why is it so hard as an adult?
This one might sound weird because we live in a culture of pure independence. The only person who can make you great is you. Children are dependent on their parents for survival. They are also dependent on teachers for education. When a proverb said that it takes a village to raise a child, it’s not a lie. Why does that change, as we get older? It feels like we’re on our own when it comes to our issues. I think that’s one of the reasons why we have so many mental health concerns today.
Sometimes we don’t need a therapist. We just need a friend. A friend in which we can feel safe being vulnerable with. We also need to realize that the weight of the world does not have to be on our shoulders. We have events that we can see, and many that we can’t see working for our good. Hustling and grinding are very not necessary. We should trust that our collective family has our back. Knowing that we can be there for others when times are good, and people can be there for us when times get bad. We need to realize that there’s nothing to worry about because there are things we can’t see in motion. Working for our good. Once we get out of this individualistic mindset, and build a collective community, things start to become easier.