“Adulting”- A term to describe spending money on dish soap and booking your own dental appointments. Who here enjoys it?… Yeah, me neither. And not just because my student loans make me want to crawl into a hole. Aside from the baseline of responsibility required to keep our lives running smoothly, adulthood in western society comes with a fair amount of unnecessary anxiety. We are suffocated with expectations and standards, many of which we create for ourselves. “Am I working hard enough? Am I making smart decisions? Is this right for me? Do I measure up?”.
How much of our thoughts and energy go towards things that don’t bring us joy? Too much. And it’s exhausting.
Sad, how we all find ourselves growing up and away from the magic and serendipity of childhood. We abandon ourselves in favour of what we think we SHOULD be. But we don't have to...
That’s why you need to stop what you’re doing right now and take out an old photo book. Find a picture of four year old you. Found one? Good. Now laugh at your haircut and how your parents dressed you. Where were you in the picture? What were you doing? Who were you with? What was important to you? That little girl or boy still exists and they are waiting for you to pay attention to them again.
Make them proud.
If little you were to meet big you would they be happy with their future selves? I had two career goals when I was little- fortune teller and real life mermaid in the Vancouver aquarium. Still working towards becoming both of those things but I think four year old me would also be quite pleased to be a flight attendant. Live in a way that little you would approve of. What did you LOVE when you were small? A lot changes from 4 to 24 to 44, but a lot stays the same! I think that there are core themes we carry throughout our entire lives and a lot of wisdom can be found when we turn to our child selves for guidance. Be the kind of person that little you would have wanted to grow up into. Connecting to little you is like connecting directly to your intuition. Run like hell towards whatever it is that gives you that sparkly and “right” feeling. Your inner child usually knows what that is.
Take care of them.
Pretend that you are babysitting little you. How can you be the best babysitter ever? There are so many things that we do and say that we would NOT do or say to our four year old selves. What habits or internal dialogue do you have that is not kind? Stop being so god damn hard on yourself. When you make a mistake, be gentle as you would with a child- life is about learning and besides, now you know! Take time to check in on yourself throughout the day and then give yourself what you need. What can you do, in this moment that will bring you closer to how you want to feel? The same goes for who you choose to interact with. Stop subjecting yourself to shitty people who you wouldn't want hanging out with little you. It's a waste of precious time. Forgive them, forget about them and then go play on the other side of the playground. It’s easy to be condescending and cruel to ourselves. Many of us do it without even noticing. Think of yourself as four year old you, and feel your approach shift to a softer place.
Take time to play.
When was the last time you did something “just because”? Make a sandcastle. Jump back and forth between hotel room beds. Eat the ice cream without thinking about the fucking calories. Climb a tree and be slightly nervous to climb back down. Make a shadow puppet show on the wall with your hands. Laugh out loud at something funny that pops into your head. As adults, we tone down our excitement and play it cool way too often- Notice the tiny things that bring you joy in everyday life and let yourself get really pumped about them! Make a to-do list specifically to incorporate those things into your life. Daydream, be idealistic and believe that “maybe” could secretly mean yes. To be playful we must first be present. Take a time out and truly take in what’s around you.
Growing older does not take away the spontaneity and wonder in life- It just makes us forget that it’s there. If I’m feeling particularly stressed or overwhelmed, I make four year old me the screen saver on my phone. She reminds me to be true to myself, to be kind to myself and to appreciate the little things. I’m no good at adulting (really, who is?). But I do try my very best- Trusting in the woman I've become, hand in hand with the little girl I’ll aways be. Now go outside and play!