I used to look at people who became their goofiest when they played with children with an embarrassed side-glance. I’d feel the need to feel uncomfortable for them, that they were doing such silly things in front of a bunch of adults.
Like, “You realize we can see you too, right?”
But in reality, it’s not like I thought any less of them. I understood that they were just doing things like making silly faces and pretending to trip on imaginary banana peels to entertain the kids. It didn’t make them any less of an adult in my eyes, so I don’t really know why I found it so embarrassing to watch them do their thing.
I think maybe I was insecure in my own adulthood at the time and so I felt like I had to overcompensate by not acting silly at any time, even if it was just for kids; in order to prove the sternness of my adult status. Now, I’ve embraced the truth that all adults are just really big kids anyway, so what’s the use in stifling your inner child? It’s just that now we’re big kids who pay taxes, and feel obligated to pretend we know what we’re doing. But the huge secret is, we still don’t know what we’re doing. Each stage of life brings new challenges that make us feel as awkward as a kindergartner, fumbling to scratch led marks between the lines we’re told to adhere to.
I find myself doing all sorts of crazy stuff these days to make my students laugh or keep them engaged. I’m not embarrassed in the least. Not even in front of other adults.
I don’t understand why we keep this lack of know-how a secret for children to find out when they’re adults. It’s not like they’d look down on us or feel less safe in our hands. I find they usually appreciate the honesty, to whatever extent you give it to them. Why don’t we do them a favor and save them some insecurity & uncertainty later by fessing up?
I feel like a shadow of this truth is shown when we do things like make silly faces at small children, but I think the adolescents could use our help too.
Tell a young adult “I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I’m still breathing so I guess I’m doing something right,” today.
When you’re in a relationship with someone, (be it romantic or platonic), the most comfortable arrangement is to feel like they like you just as much as you like them. I used to think that most times that’s how it pans out if you’re careful, but I know now that oftentimes feelings in a relationship are uneven regardless. Most times the way the scale is balanced is unclear until key events slap you in the face and make this clearly known. Like maybe he decided that flirting with the waitress while you sit alone at the bar is an acceptable way to start a date, or you realize on a night out that this girl’s laugh is a little too obnoxious for you and if she mentions the word literally one more time you’re going to literally connect your knuckles to her face.
Well, every now and then you get into a relationship where it is blatantly obvious that this is the case from the beginning, and you’re on the disinterest receiving end.
You want with all your heart for them to be as interested in you as you are in them, but you can tell that the attraction is lopsided, if not one-sided.
You’re sitting there having this intense amount of intrigue in the person, but you can tell that they are only mildly curious about you at best. You can’t quite figure out what about you is serving as a complete turnoff to the awesomeness that is you and this bothers you. Eventually, you’re left there ruminating so long about how you can change their level of interest in you that you start thinking things that should never even enter your mind. You actually begin thinking about what ways you can change yourself to fit the desires of the other person, (which is crazy because you’re you and that’s amazing and no one in the world should make you feel otherwise).
The brainstorming starts turning into crazy talk: “Why don’t they like me? Is it my style? My hairdo? My love of all things yellow? Ohmigerd, no. They figured out my left leg is half a centimeter shorter than my right one didn’t they? I knew someone would figure it out one day! What am I supposed to do now? That’s not exactly fixable. Well…maybe if I nick a piece of my heel off here…” Then you realize how ridiculous you sound so you start to reassure yourself that you’re lovable the way you are, but then you start to remember things that went wrong in past relationships, and you begin thinking maybe your ex’s dislike of your Disney plushie collection and penchant for singing along with television jingles isn’t all that unreasonable.
That’s when the worst question sets in.
“I’m lovable aren’t I?…Pssh, of course I am…
Now, it’s not always so severe of a case. You may not question your worth to such an extreme degree, but the self esteem questions come tumbling in nonetheless, if not crashing in. It really sucks. My advice to you when you’re faced with the possibility of these obviously lopsided relationships:
Run the other way.
No matter how fantastic the other person really may be, they’re not worth losing your mind over.
And if you’re on the other side of the equation where you’re seeing that some person is latching onto you that you really don’t care to engage with, let them down easily but clearly to spare them some grief. Or better yet, take the time to genuinely look them in the eye before you do. It just might turn out they could become one of the people you love most in the world if you just stop holding yourself back and be honest with yourself.
So apparently there’s this particular view in the world that once you become an adult, there are certain things you just can’t do anymore. It’s like once you hit this indeterminate age threshold, the world tells you,
“Now, now. Remember what we discussed when you were a kid? Being an adult is boring, and you my friend, I am sad to say, have become one.”
Who decided that once you become an adult you’re prohibited from certain actions? Because I don’t remember signing that contract, so I refuse to submit to it. Last summer I was taking a tour of a Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory with my family and at some point we were outside enjoying the view. My siblings and I spotted this really pretty tree whose leaves were the size of your hand and spotted yellow and green. “Let’s go take a picture by it!” I urged them (I’m kind of a photography geek. Not a talented one, but I still like taking lots of pictures nonetheless. ;p). The tree was so pretty and placed right near the edge of ridge with this old fashioned wooden rail around it. I knew it was a premium spot, so I was excited to try my best to make the pictures turn out great. I was so excited that I decided to sprint the hundred yards or so to it. When my siblings caught up to me my older brother gave me a skeptical look and remarked,
“You’re such a kid…” as he shook his head.
“What do you mean?” I asked, genuinely confused.
“You didn’t have to run. You could have just walked like the rest of us. I don’t know…You’re just so childish sometimes…” he said, (or at least something roughly along those lines).
“Who says adults can’t run?” I half chuckled, half eyebrow-raised.
And then he kinda just shrugged it off.
I don’t know. Is it just me or do other people think these kind of arbitrary rules for adults are pretty silly? I mean, I get that if I were at work in an office and decided to suddenly sprint through the hall to the break room to get some coffee that it would be an inappropriate setting to do so in. But if I’m on vacation, in the open air, and happen to be excited about something, what’s wrong if I decide to sprint from point A to point B? What’s so ridiculously “childish” about using running as an expression of joy? It uses the pent up energy I have from lounging around the hotel all day, it gets me to where I want to be faster, and it happens to feel great having the wind whoosh through my hair. Pardon, but I don’t see the problem.
Okay, so forget the childish and/or immature view of adults doing some actions. I find that doing things people conventionally think of as something only a kid does makes most people unreasonably uncomfortable.
How many of you have been in a supermarket when you were a kid and ridden a shopping cart through the aisles?
You know what I’m talking about.
Your mom’s all the way on the other side of the aisle. There aren’t that many items in the cart yet. You know she’ll probably scold you for doing it…But you Just. Can’t. Fight the urge… So you place your hands firmly on the handlebars, rev up your lip powered engine and let a rip down your cereal box raceway!
We’ve all done it.
And if you haven’t, I’m deeply sorry for your loss, for you have missed out on an important part of childhood. Let’s mourn for all the people who’ve missed out on this experience…
Okay, moment of silence over.
So we’ve all done it. Or at least heard about it. You can’t tell me that as an adult you’ve never suddenly been browsing the boring bean section and suddenly felt the inclination to feel that way again. But you stop yourself. It’s inappropriate you tell yourself. It’s uncalled for…
Well, guess what? I still do it.
Now admittedly, I make sure there are aren’t any old ladies or small children in the way so I can avoid The Great Shopping Cart Crash of 1999. But still. I still do it every now and then when I get the inkling. And when I do, people catch me. And when they catch me, they almost always give me the old “ohmygrob, how old are you, you’ll upset the balance of society and implode the world as we know it” side glance.
Like seriously, though? What is so criminally wrong about me enjoying the experience of grocery shopping for once in my life that gets your panties/boxers in such a tangle?
Once again. It’s convenient, it’s fast, and it happens to be fun. When did the words “adult” and “fun” become antonym arch enemies? It just bothers me so much that the concept of adult behavior has such an uptight connotation. If you ever take a moment to watch a little kid dance you can witness the kind of benign, unbridled non-inhibition that makes you go, “Man, what does that kid have that makes them so happy and carefree about such a trivial moment that I don’t?”
Surprise. I can give you the answer.
It’s not so much what they do have, so much as what they don’t have…
Do you really want to know the secret?
Well, alright. But you’ll have to lean in real close…
The answer is…
A stick up their butt! They don’t have such a stick up their butt.
When people become adults they suddenly take on this snooty high perspective. It makes them look down on the little people they once were and stomp on all the cool, fun things that used to make them happy. It’s inappropriate, they say. It’s uncalled for…But really, they’re just trying to make themselves feel better about conforming to the boring standards that society says makes them worthy of being called “a responsible adult.” For some people, at a certain time in their life there has to be a line that’s drawn that says,
“Look. That is where you were, and this is where you are now. We’re going to throw in a whole bunch of arbitrary rules into your behavior set so that you don’t forget. What’s that?…No, no. The fact that you have a job, pay your taxes, and support your family financially and emotionally isn’t enough! We’re gonna make you follow these rules too. Just in case. You know, so you don’t forget.”
Pshhh. Yeah, sounds like a real reasonable trade off…
I’ll stick with my Trix and shopping cart rides thank you. And I’ll have the mental/emotional independence to know that I can still call myself a respectable adult, too.