Saturday, February 6, 2016

When I Grow Up, I Don't Want to be a "Grown Up"

Cross-posted from MapleSyrupEDU.

By all accounts, I’m officially a grown-up. I have a steady job, two kids, bills, the whole deal. I seem to do an awful lot of chores, but they don’t grate on my nerves the way I did when I was a kid. Days seem shorter, my list of goals is focused, and quite often I hear my father’s words coming out of my own mouth.

Despite all the signs, I don’t want to give up certain parts of being a child. I think that’s why I chose a career that involves working with kids: I’m quite comfortable living with some of the lessons I continue to learn from children. Acting childish has some negative connotations, but I think there’s a lot of value in some childish traits. So here’s a list of things that every adult should remember about being a kid:

Image: Wikipedia

Adventure is everywhere.

Calvin and Hobbes taught me that from an early age, and I still venturing off the beaten path. Quite literally, I will actually being walking through the woods at times, and decide to just take a left turn and see where it goes. You may not actually want to traipse through a bunch of scratchy thorn bushes, but remember that you don’t always have to take the shortest route to your destination. Sometimes the distractions are worth the time.

Image: Matt Newfield (Flickr)

Getting dirty can be fun.

This is one that I too often forget. Sometimes, it’s worth it to get your hands dirty, rip holes in the knees of your pants, or just splash in the big puddle. My own children remind me of this quite frequently. There’s always hot chocolate, fresh clothes, and a warm bath waiting for you if you need it.

Image: James Petersen

Creativity can be its own end.

Sometimes starting a project without a final destination in mind is actually more fun that working toward a goal. It can be refreshing, and even liberating, to begin a project without a plan. Adjust things as you go, and let your vision of the finished product evolve. It's a great way to learn.

Image: PDPics (Pixabay)

We’re all a “work in progress”

The only thing that’s worth striving for is to be a better version of yourself when you go to sleep, than you were when you woke up. Competition among peers isn’t a way to self-fulfillment (at least, it’s not for me). When you don't compete with others, you start to enjoy their successes as much as your own. Life is not a zero-sum game: We can all win.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

Learning is supposed to be fun.

Take the time to play around with things. Explore. After all, what’s the worst that could happen? You could be wrong? See #4 if that happens. But if you're right, or you discover something new, it can be so rewarding. Give yourself a sandbox, and allow yourself to play in it.
In all honesty, most kids have a lot of “adult” traits, even if it’s in a slightly less robust form.  Kids are responsible. Kids are honest. Kids are kind, caring, thoughtful. They can certainly lose these traits if we don’t nurture them, but I believe that every child aims to be a good and happy person.

We can do all of these things as adults, but we don’t need to do them exclusively. Adulting is hard sometimes - don’t be afraid to stop adulting and just enjoy life in the moment. Being a grown up means a lot of responsibility, but don’t forget that it also means that you have the freedom to retain the great things about being a kid.