It’s graduation season and everyone is focused on future success, but I have a feeling there’s something missing from our lively dinner party conversations and graduation speeches. It’s missing because we like to talk to graduates about growing up and reaching goals, while quietly sweeping under the carpet the realities that come with it.
Let’s face it. “Adulting” is no fun. When you’re a kid you’re allowed—even encouraged to have fun! But as we grow older we’re expected to “put away childish things” and set about grown folk’s business—all the business we were shooed away from during our childhood, I might add. Now we’re expected to solve adult problems–and be quick about it! There’s no time for dallying with paint brushes and poetry!
People grow out of creativity the way they grow out of their belief in Santa Claus. It falls by the wayside along with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth fairy. The closer we get to adulthood, the more we learn that mistakes are to be avoided and failure is not an option. We have to get it right the first time:
- What will your major be when you get to college? And don’t change your mind! Even if you find yourself in classes that leave you drained.
- What will you do after you graduate? Don’t get it wrong! Nevermind that you’re brain dead from all those classes that you hated. Now you have a degree that you don’t want and it’s time to find a job that you’ll want even less!
- Then what? Spend the next 30 years showing up every day for a paycheck just because you chose to be an adult?
Nah. Let’s not put away childish things. Let’s be a kid again!
You know the great thing about kids? They mess up. And they know it! And when they mess up, you know what they do? They own it– “Oops…sorry!” Then they dust themselves off and move on! Can you imagine? Suppose you chose the wrong major? The wrong job, the wrong career or maybe you just made a mistake? Rather than acting like an adult and trying to explain it away, justifying it, acting as if you meant to do it, covering it up and pretending it wasn’t a mistake at all, why not be a kid? Own it. “Oops…sorry!” and move on!
You know what that will allow you to do? Make another choice!
It will allow you the freedom to choose another path, another job, another major, maybe another class. You won’t have to pretend as if you have all the answers or have it all together. You’ll be free from a life of misery, doing something that you never wanted to do just to please people you don’t even know!
Being a kid frees you to be creative, to try something new, to see what happens, because you can’t always predict what will happen, but that’s what’s exciting–and liberating–because when you’re a kid you’re not afraid of failure. Messing up is part of the process of growing up, yet growing up is an ongoing process of which kids have no real concept. For a kid, to grow up is just a willingness to surrender to the euphoria of free-falling into the open spaces of possibility without any clear sense of where the end will be, but to enjoy the exhileration of pure experience.
In other words…Kids know how to live!
We adults could learn a thing or two. This graduation season, I’m going to see if I can find that carefree kid that I used to be. She’s probably up for some fun, how about you?
Cover Photo credit: Himanshu Singh Gurjar (@himanshu723)