Sometimes there is this child-like sense of curiosity or this feeling that you probably had as a child when you just wanted to play.
It’s things like reading a story, having paper and pens to create whatever you like or even a bunch of building blocks. There’s no instructions or a specified outcome that you need to meet and you have nothing to prove.
Once you’re done you can just move on to something else, the outcome doesn’t even really matter. At that age you’re just creating, using your mind and being free. In hindsight you might notice certain things you were good at or enjoyed more but in the moment that wasn’t a priority.
As an adult we’re often focused on the outcome, how good we are (often in comparison to others) and how much money we can make. At times, so much emphasis is put on making money that we’re made to feel like what we do is pointless, worthless and a waste of time if it generates no income.
When it’s just you yourself and you, how do you live?
How do you spend your time? And the times when you feel most like yourself, what are you doing?
For me it’s journaling, walking in green spaces, listening to my favourite music (The jezabels, Funkadelic/Parliament and The Stone Roses), creating with my hands, getting lost in a good book, writing blog posts and just writing in general.
In the midst of life, these things can be easy to forget and sometimes we go so far as to even forget ourselves. Then we end up feeling lost and unsure of what to do next.
We often feel most like ourselves when we return to childhood things. Things we did when we were young without a care in the world. You weren’t focused on competing or what other people would think, you were simply just being you.
I think the idea of being curious is something often associated with childhood. You think of being at a young age where you have lots of questions and so you ask them not really thinking about whether or not you should.
But then we get older, for a large majority of people asking questions is seen as a bad thing. It’s considered nosy.
I think being curious is a good thing. It helps us learn and grow.
Plus, in many situations although there are almost unspoken rules about not asking questions, the truth is that asking might actually benefit you.
It might feel like you’re being an inconvenience but if you don’t understand something or you want to know more, why should you stay quiet. This of course does not apply to asking questions that can be answered by a quick google. Those questions are more about laziness than curiosity.
I’m thinking more of the questions with answers that will provide knowledge.
Maybe it’s a question about yourself. Maybe you ask someone if there’s anything you can do to help them.
Anyway the point is curiosity isn’t a bad thing, it’s human nature. It comes in more forms than just asking questions, it’s also about exploration and openness.
Curiosity is an aspect of myself I’ve been making more of an effort to embrace and it’s paying off.
Storytelling is a powerful thing.
Not everything gets written down or photographed but stories can always be passed down as long as someone is happy to speak and someone is willing to listen.
For many storytelling perhaps conjures up images of childhood sitting cross legged on the floor as the teacher reads you story or your parents making up a bedtime story where you’re the main character and you save the day.
But there is so much power in the stories we tell about life. It’s how people passed on information, it’s a way of bringing people together and when you tell stories of the past it helps people imagine the way things once her.
My grandparents tell me stories of their lives and my parents too and it’s fascinating. Hearing the stories of people you know is probably the most realistic glimpse into the past you can possibly get.
My focus here is on non-fiction, things that actually happened because that’s the stuff worth remembering.
If you missed out on anything in your younger years you might hold the belief that it’s too late to do the things you wished you’d done.
But what if you do them now, what if you make a conscious effort to make up for lost time?
Granted with age comes responsibility, so taking out a few months to go backpacking around Asia might not be feasible, if you now have a full time job and a mortgage to pay but maybe you could do it for a week or two instead.
Sometimes it seems as though once we reach a particular age we have to ‘settle down’ and certain things are no longer available to us. But that’s just you restricting yourself. Just because you didn’t get to have as much fun growing up as you’d have liked doesn’t mean it’s too late.
I don’t know was one of my most used phrases during my school days.
It was an easy 3 words to use in situations where I didn’t want to participate, like class.
I’d sit daydreaming, ruminating or just quietly paying attention. Then all of a sudden a teacher would call on me for the answer to a question.
Perhaps I hadn’t heard it or maybe I didn’t want to think or join in because after all my hand wasn’t even up.
So, I’d almost immediately respond with I don’t know even if after some thought I might have had an answer to contribute.
I never wanted to offeranything because on the occasions that I did, my hand would be up.
And so when I used to say I don’t know it just meant that I didn’t want to offer, join in or engage.
This phase of my life was around 10 years ago at a time where I found it incredibly difficult to use my voice.
These days I’m more commonly heard saying I’m not sure and I’m much more willing to contribute something and be wrong instead of saying nothing at all.
If you find yourself using I don’t know as a regular response ask yourself why because you might find that it could actually be replaced with the phrases ‘I don’t want to think’.
And if you don’t want to think then you might be a lazy person or you might be scared of being wrong.
Either way there’s something to work.
Do you remember when you were your most confident self?
Common advice in challenging situations when we’re afraid is to ask ‘what would [insert name of inspirational person] do?’
I think that’s a really helpful tool but it can also just emphasise the gap between where you’re at and where you want to be instead of bridging it.
So, what if you consult your past self at peak confidence instead. If you were confidence once you can be confident again.
When you find yourself facing a challenge think of a time you were confident or did something difficult in the past. Close your eyes, visualise it, feel that feeling and keep it with you for when you need it.
Maybe it’s the memory of the solo you did in a school play that you can apply to leading your first client meeting.
When you’re caught in fear or your confidence is low it can be easy to forget that you once felt otherwise and that it’s possible to overcome that thing that scares you and feel confident again.
Or at least trying to be.
I remember being around 16 or 17 telling a classmate about my writing hobby and that I had thought of doing it as a career. At the time I was pretty lost with regard to career plans and my civil engineering dream was becoming less and less likely.
My classmate on the other hand was an excellent academic – who went on to study medicine.
He told me (in a roundabout way) that sometimes when you try to turn your hobby into your career it ruins it.
At the time I think I said something like yeah you’re right. But in my head I thought but I wanna be a writer and over half a decade later I still think that.
However, despite wanting to be a writer, I’m now 2 years into a career in transport. For the most part, I’m pretty happy with where I’m at and that has made me realise that more than wanting to be a writer what I really want is to write.
And I do write.
For some people there are aspects of themselves that were developed in childhood as coping mechanisms in order to feel comfortable or safe.
And sometimes those habits or behaviour that were developed during childhood become so familiar and comfortable to us that we carry them through into adulthood.
But the thing is how you coped at 6 might not be so useful to you 2 decades later, in fact you might find that it’s more of a hindrance.
This is why it’s important to get to know yourself and have a level of self-awareness where you can know the why behind the things that you do.
If you can identify something that is no longer working for you then you can also change it to something that does.
There is a belief that the things that brought us joy as kids will be the things that bring us joy as adults, especially after we’ve gone through low periods.
Feeding the birds at the park, reading fiction books, drawing and making daisy chains are some examples of childhood joys.
It’s interesting that as children we find joy in the simplest of things yet as adults we end up believing that happiness is hard to come by.
But what could be compared to the feeling of sitting on a swing in a park on a summer afternoon, swinging back and forth whilst watching the world go by.
Unless of course, you’re not a fan of swings.