"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional."
I don't know if I embraced my childhood as well as I could have. I was a bit uptight. I was a bit on edge. I wasn't really willing to let go and just have fun the way other kids were. But just because I'm a grown up (sort of) doesn't mean I can't have fun the way a kid might. This week I'm going to do what I can to celebrate the things I loved as a child. Today I'm going to think back to those (almost) carefree summer days as a kid and figure out exactly what it was that I loved to do -- and then I'm going to find ways to incorporate that joyful, childlike sense of fun into my grown up life. So, what did I like to do as a kid?
Coloring: As a kid, two of my favorite things to do were reading and writing (yes, I was a huge nerd) and do a lot of those things still as an adult, but I also loved drawing and coloring something I don't do nearly enough of these days. When I was living out in California, I used to have a sketch book and I would spend hours and hours in front of the TV with a plethora of markers, just drawing and doodling. It's been forever since I've done that and I think it would be a great thing to take up again. I used to think of it as sort of a calming therapy (though, looking back at it now some of those angry and sad images were far from calming!). While I probably won't dabble in the coloring books of my youth (My Little Pony! Disney Princesses!), I'm pretty sure I could easily get back into drawing and art like I was in college.
Fort Building: When I was a kid, I actually liked to be outside some of the time (unlike the adult me who would much prefer to be inside unless a suntan and a pool are involved). I had a best friend who enjoyed building forts with me. I was lucky enough to have a great backyard (not big, but big enough) in which I had two perfect areas for creating forts. Okay, let's be serious -- I'm not going to go around creating forts as an adult, but I can think of my new apartment as my little fort. Soon I'll be moving and I can use that time to create a lovely little space of home for myself.
Journaling:One of my favorite things to do as a child was write in my journal. I had all of these beautiful (locked!) journals that held all of my deepest thoughts. Lately, especially since I've started blogging, I've sort of let the journaling go. I need to think back to how much I loved it as a child -- how much pleasure I took in writing everything down, reflecting on my day -- and get back into it. There is something completely refreshing and liberating about writing down how you feel and knowing that no one will ever read those words. And, even more important, is having the journals to go back to. I love looking back at them now, seeing glimpses of my younger self, and I'm sure I'll feel the same way in my future.
Playing:When I was really young I used to love playing with dolls, with toys. Though I do have the wonderful privilege of playing with Bella and her toys and I guess, in a way, things like iPods and Kindles are toys, but do I really do that much playing these days? Am I really all that playful? (Or, better question, was I really even that playful ever?) I think this is an area of my life that I could definitely improve on and I think a lot of other adults are probably in the same boat on this one. Think about it: do adults really play all that much? I'm going to work on playing more. I have a feeling it'll be a great happiness booster.
Swimming: I used to love to swim. I used to dread the moment when the whistle would blow and the lifeguard (who I was secretly in love with) would yell out, "Adult swim!" I hated being told I had to get out of the pool and I couldn't wait until the day I was old enough to be considered an adult. Now I spend hours by the pool, not even dipping a toe in the water. Yesterday, my good friend Abbey asked me, "Do you ever go in the water?" I wrinkled my nose and said, "No. Never." But why? I used to love swimming. I used to love the feeling of moving freely underwater, holding my breath and playing silly games with friends. Next time I go to the pool I'm going to go in the water. I'm going to swim and see if I like it as much as I did when I was a kid.
Obviously there are many, many things I did as a kid that I don't do anymore, but I think the ones I've mentioned above are things I could pretty easily incorporate into my life now and I think all of them will have positive benefits. So what about you? Have you thought back to your younger self and considered what you might have loved to do then that you no longer do now? Have you thought about why you don't do it? If you would still like to? I bet we'd all learn a lot about ourselves if we thought about what we did as kids and how different that is from what we do now. In my case, I'd say that reading and writing were the biggest time consumers of my childhood and they're still the things I spend most of my time doing. However, that's not the case for everyone. Give it some thought. You might be surprised at what you remember. You might even find some ways to bring that childhood self back into your life.
What did you love to do as a child?
Do you still do those things? If not, why not?