In a world where trust is something that is constantly broken by friends, family and acquaintances, where we become the only people we can trust – ourselves – it is crucial to be the best damn role models we can be, not only for our present selves, but for our younger selves, going back to when we were children.
We might be all grown up now, but inside of ourselves, there is someone who never leaves us, and that is the person we have already been – our inner child. The child who, when asked what they wanted to be when they “grew up”, said, a policeman, a painter, a singer, an astronaut. These future dreams stem from what children view as being the ultimate careers, proving that we all start our lives with the best intentions for ourselves, which is why we should never lose sight of what we always thought was possible, even if it was a little far-fetched. Underneath those magical/excellent/exciting ambitions, is a mind that is carefree, happy and grounded.
Adulthood gives us knowledge and a perspective we’ve never had before, but it also gives us reality and it shows us what’s realistically possible in terms of a careers or personal goals. Logically – maturation needs to happen so that we’re all not sitting on a bus at the age of thirty, licking a lollypop, swinging our feet out in front of us, while our elderly mothers hold our hands and berate us for biting the chair in front of us. We cannot be children forever. This I completely understand.
However, getting into our twenties, our capacity to imagine starts to dwindle, unless we work in childcare, and we forget how to dream. I’m not talking about the kind of dreaming that REM sleep conjures, I’m talking about looking at the world through rose tinted glasses – a tint that allows us to see the best in everything, the best in everyone. Including ourselves.
By twenty-five, we either know what life-path we’re travelling on, or we don’t. We know what our interests are, we have developed these through working and through studying, and we are either happy with our lives or we’re figuring out ways in which we could be. If you’re one of those people who has no idea who they want to be when they grow up – that’s totally ok – you’re not alone. My advice to these people is – be the kind of person your five year old self would look up to.
Don’t dwell on the degrees you could have had/or the degrees you have but won’t use, the sports trophies you could have won, the relationships you should/shouldn’t have had, the conversations that never happened – because all of this is irrelevant to your five year old self. Your five year old self just wants to be happy, have lots of friends, and go about every day doing something that they love. So this is where we need to take a leaf from the books of our inner child and start living simply, without getting caught up in competing with others, having regrets or wanting more.
Be that adult your five year old self would approve of. This ideal is different for all of us. My five year old self would want me to be kind, happy, friendly, loving, approachable, and caring. My five year old self knows the importance of compassion; crying when my friend is told off by the teacher because we don’t want them to be told off, because we know how it feels, yet as adults we’re too selfish, too busy with our own little lives to look twice at that homeless person, too jaded to throw money into their buckets, and if we do, too worried that they’ll spend it on drugs or alcohol.
We all need to remember who we were at five years old, because it was then that we were the best people we could ever be, in terms of how we saw the world and how we treated it. If we can be the kinds of adults our five year old selves would look up to, copy, mimic, and adore, then we have succeeded a great deal indeed.