“The best way to live a full life is to be a child, no matter what your age” — Unknown
When I was in Grade 3, we had to write down what we wanted to be when we grew up. I distinctly remember putting down “I want to be a writer”. I mean, that was a pretty grown up ambition. The funny thing about kids is that they see no limitations to what they could be — an artist, a ninja, a dinosaur; in fact, if they really wanted, they could be all three things.
In university, I was one of the weird ones who actually liked writing reports, researching, editing, the whole shebang. I was even recommended to major in English by my instructor.
I didn’t major in English. Instead I went the practical route and chose Business.
I was never taught to find my strengths or follow my dreams. I was taught to find a stable job and work there until I retire. That’s what my parents did and I believed that’s what I was meant to do. And I did. I have been in the Finance and Accounting field for 10 years.
I read that only 6% of the population actually achieve their childhood dreams. That means that 94% of us either gave up on our childhood dreams, pursued different aspirations, or work in a career they hate and dreaming about what could’ve been.
After 10 years, I wondered if it was time to turn back time and go talk to that 8 year old again, the girl who knew what she wanted to be when she grew up… and that’s what I did.
I returned to my childhood dream of writing.
And here’s what I learned by turning back the clock and finally live out my childhood dream:
IT BRINGS BACK A SENSE OF WONDER AND CURIOSITY
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.” ~ Albert Einstein
As kids, we use to explore and ask questions about EVERYTHING! We don’t do that anymore. As we grow up, our view of the world becomes stagnant and we stop asking questions because we believe that’s how it is from here on out.
Since I’ve started writing, I’m seeing the world in a different light and bringing those questions back.
Everything has now become an inspiration.
Writing has brought back that sense of wonder and curiosity for me. It makes me research, read, ask questions; and hopefully through all that, find a sliver of hope and inspiration.
Curiosity isn’t just about getting answers, it’s having the desire to learn. It’s the what-ifs of life and, to me, we’ve forgotten how to ask the whys and what-ifs.
From an early age, we’re taught what to learn rather than how to learn.
That practical trumps passion.
That knowing the answers is better than asking the questions.
People like to feel knowledgable and intelligent and so we try to hide our curiosity because we don’t want to look stupid. But curiosity is what changes the world. It’s what makes us see things in a different light, to bring in new perspective and help us be more creative.
As Einstein once said “I have no special talents, I am only passionately curious.” To me, the real talent is to be “passionately curious”.
I DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK
“Thinking too much of what others think of you ultimately changes what you think of yourself”- Unknown
I have a problem. I care way too much about what other people think.
I’ve lived my whole life this way. Isn’t that a shame? We end up sacrificing ourselves in order to please someone else.
But writing has given me the freedom to speak my mind, share my thoughts and my work. Of course I hope that people will read it and hope to find an audience for my work but at the end of the day, they’re my words and I’ve quickly realized that I can’t write for everybody.
Writing has helped me:
- Put myself out there
- Find my voice
- To stop giving caring (as much) about what other people think.
It’s freed me.
We’re all afraid of being judged; of being criticized and, unfortunately, our perception of other people’s opinion influence how we act, what we create and even our thoughts about our own worth. But it’s human nature to judge. It doesn’t matter who you are, where you’re from, or where you’re going, people are going to judge you and there’s really nothing you can do about it.
When we were kids, we didn’t care who we were talking to; we blurted things out, dressed for ourselves, and pretended to be superheroes and ninjas.
When did we stop being our own superheroes and turned ourselves prisoner to someone else’s opinion?
It’s a lot harder to follow my own internal compass than to listen to someone else’s directions but at least I’m finding my own path.
IT MAKES ME FEEL LIKE I’M ACTUALLY MAKING A DIFFERENCE
“Be the change you want to see in the world” — Mahatma Ghandi
When we think of making an impact, we often think about the difference we’re making on others. We dream about helping others and how we can make that happen.
Why don’t we ever wish the same for ourselves?
To paraphrase Ghandi, in order to change the world, we need to make a difference in ourselves first. We need to “be the change”.
Finally embarking on my childhood dream makes me finally feel like I’m making a difference…in myself.
I don’t doubt myself
I don’t think we ever doubt ourselves when we’re kids. We make decisions based on our immediate needs, say what we’re thinking and expect people to listen and truly believe in it. As we grow up, doubt starts to set in, easy decisions are made into difficult ones and we refuse to trust our own judgement. It’s a horrible mindset that is still a work in progress for me.
But when I’m writing, I don’t doubt myself. I write what I’m feeling and don’t second guess every word and every thought. I just write and when I trust my words, I learn to trust myself.
I’ve found that the only way we can inspire others to be confident in themselves is to have confidence in ourselves.
I’m striving for the best version of me in that moment
Many of us become stagnant and complacent. We end up settling for what we have rather than striving for new goals. We become comfortable with being comfortable.
We do what we need to do to get by, to make it through another day. We know we’re not being the best version of ourselves but we don’t try to do better because we’re too busy, too tired, too much of everything.
Kids don’t limit themselves to the possibilities in front of them; they strive to grow and learn, they put all the energy they have into that one moment. Living out my childhood dream makes me strive to be better, to put my best self out there and create my very best work in that moment.
“To be more childlike, you don’t have to give up being an adult. The fully integrated person is capable of being both an adult and a child simultaneously. Recapture the childlike feelings of wide-eyed excitement, spontaneous appreciation, cutting loose, and being full of awe and wonder at this magnificent universe.” — Wayne Dyer
We often have a pivot point between becoming an adult and childhood, usually defined by age. We’re under the impression that the two cannot intermingle and we can never turn back.
But I’ve learned that you can turn back. Maybe we can’t be an artistic prehistoric ninja anymore but we can always go back to believing that we have the potential to be whatever we want to be. We can reset our brains to adopt a childlike mindset and start believing in ourselves again, to explore, and learn.
We’re never too old and it’s never too late.
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Originally published at www.thriveglobal.com.