“You’re too old for this”.
“Only little kids do that”.
“You’re a grown-up now, you need to stop doing this”.
Do the above quotes sound familiar to you? I can hear you say yes.
It seems that the older we get, the less we play and enjoy ourselves. But why is that? Is life meant to become so mundane once we grow up?
Once upon a time, life was a daring adventure.
When we were little kids, every day was an adventure. We didn’t need to pack our stuff and drive to the mountains or forests to have one. The mere existence in this beautiful world was enough to please our little soul. We couldn’t go to sleep early because we were so excited to continue our adventure, and we couldn’t wake up late because we didn’t want to miss any moment of the next one.
A butterfly could make our day, an episode of our favorite cartoon was enough to fill us with joy, a smile from the neighbor’s little daughter could make us feel like heroes and steal sleep from our eyes for days.
Every day was a new chance to discover how this world works. We would touch everything our little hands could find. We were curious about everything. The world just never ceased to amaze us.
We dreamed of flying, of saving the world, of killing the bad guys, of saving the princess, of becoming the princess. Our imagination was bigger than ourselves. The sky was the only limit.
We cried when we felt sad, then we wiped off our tears and moved on. We danced and sang nonsense. We ran until our lungs became sore. No one was telling us how to live. We were the king of our life and the captain of our soul.
But then, something happened.
We grew up.
And reality hit us with full force.
People started to judge us, mock us, underestimate us, order us around like we don’t know how to live.
At first, we resisted a bit. But we eventually gave up and started listening to what they say.
“You’re too different”, “You don’t fit in with us”, “You’re a loser”, “We can’t talk with you”.
Rejection. Judgment. Humility.
That glowing spirit of us started to lose its glow with every passing day. We opened our vulnerable little selves to the outside world and to all the noise out there.
We’ve been hurt. But we couldn’t show our pain so we hid it. We hid it behind that plain mask we learned to wear. We hid it in that low energy we learned to cultivate so we don’t appear ‘too excited’ or ‘childish’. We hid it in the way we talk, walk, and think. We did anything to NOT be rejected again.
Some people turned to their headphones to escape the pain. Others turned to cigarettes, alcohol, and drugs. The pain was real.
Life became miserable. We laugh when we’re around people but cry when we’re alone. We got stuck in the routine of every day. “That’s life. Accept it”, people may say. But really? Does life have to be so dull and boring? Where did our sense of joy go?
It has been all inside you.
I was jogging in the local park today when it suddenly hit me. Around me were little kids running, screaming, playing, sharing, fighting, laughing, singing. They were all immersed in their play. They were not trying to hide anything. They were just expressing themselves. Their true selves.
Their eyes were full of joy. I could see that they were richer, stronger, happier than anyone on the planet. They were truly the king of their life and the captain of their soul.
It’s seeing them what made me realize that:
Joy is found inside of us and it has always been there since the beginning.
We don’t need to look for it in exterior things. We don’t need money or fancy things to find it. It’s within us. Within me and you.
At the deepest part of your heart, someone’s waiting. He’s waiting for you to unleash him and set him free. Waiting for the moment you realize that he is far more important to you than what people think. Did you recognize him?
He’s your inner child.
He’s the real you. Not the mask you wear every day before you go out to the world. He is no mask. He is an authentic and beautiful work of God.
He misses you. It’s time for you to let him go. Go, my friend.
Go and be silly. Go and sing out loud even if your voice will hurt some ears. Go and laugh with all your heart and show your pearly whites. Go and dance under the rain. Go and gaze at the stars and count them. Go and get your creative juice flowing again in your art. Go and take risks. Go and do something you’ve been afraid of doing but you’ve always wanted to do. Go live a daring adventure.
“One way to get the most out of life is to look upon it as an adventure.”
― William Feather
Remind yourself of your childhood dreams, be it becoming an inventor, a doctor, a writer, a samurai, or a princess, and never lose sight of them. Let them be with you. Let them accompany you in whenever you are in life. They are a part of you.
Be weird. Life is too short to be normal. I have been in the normal land before and I tell you, it’s a very boring place.
I know that you’re afraid. It can be hard to do that again after all the years of pain you felt. But you’re not alone. Let your inner child lead you. Follow him.
People will stand in your way. They will mock you and judge you but give no ear to them. Laugh at them. They are still afraid of letting their real selves shine. Waste no energy on them.
People who are afraid of what others think about them aren’t living, they are just existing. They are already dead but they will be buried when their heart stops beating.
Go tell the world that you no longer play by its rules. Tell it that it’s time you set yourself free from the damn opinion of people.
Let them say you’re childish, immature or uncool. You’ll fail to please them whether you try or not. So it’s better you do so while living true to yourself.
Pay attention to every single detail in your surroundings. Smell the flowers on your way to work or college. Stick your tongue out for a little baby you see on the street. Greet everyone you meet. Share yourself with others. Tell your friends and family how much you love them. See every opportunity as a new adventure to embark on. Just like you did when you were new to this world.
In the end, what matters most is how much you laughed, played, loved, and how many beautiful memories you’ve made along the way. So waste no time and go live.