In kindergarten, we learned the basics. Our ABCs, 123s, and not to bite our friends. People are always talking about how we learned our most important life lessons in kindergarten, and that little kids have the most to teach us about the world. In a lot of ways this is all true. However, there are some lessons we learned back then, when things were simpler, that we need to take a little less seriously now.
1. Don’t talk to strangers
“Stranger Danger” is a term that’s alive and well among children, for obvious reasons. For full-grown adults though, talking to strangers is a beautiful part of life that we don’t take enough advantage of. There are so many people in this world, and we’ll barely even know a fraction of them in our lifetime. How weird is that? With so many amazing people all around us, we should be striking up conversations with people we don’t know all the time — at the grocery store, on the bus, at an art museum, on the sidewalk. You never know what interesting stories the person sitting next to you in the doctor’s office waiting room might have. Some people find their soul mates by striking up a conversation with a perfect stranger. Heck, the whole premise of Humans of New York and other pages like it is talking to people you’ve never met before. Please, talk to strangers. We won’t meet most of the people that live on this earth in our lifetime, but at least we can try. We’re old enough to know how to keep ourselves safe now, and there are many stories to be heard.
Of course, it’s good to share things. There’s a lot of crap in this life, and so when we come across something good, no matter how small it may be, we might as well share it with the people we love. However, there is such a thing as over sharing. It’s wonderful to want to help and to want to give all of ourselves to those we care about — but we need to learn to take care of ourselves, too. If we share too much of our time, our love, our thanksgiving leftovers, then there won’t be any left for ourselves, and we’re important too. We’ve taken the concept of share to the extreme, and some of us forget that we’re worth sharing with too. Don’t forget about yourself. Share, because giving to others fills up our hearts, but also share with exclusively yourself. That way you’ll never run out of the energy to give.
3. Include everyone
When we’re little, we’re taught to include everyone. Leaving people out isn’t nice, and we need to try to be friends with everyone. Always invite the whole class to your birthday party. Don’t hurt people’s feelings. No one wants to get left out, not back then and not now. Do we really need to be friends with everyone though? Sometimes certain people just don’t click. If you’re in all the same classes, have the same friend group, work on the same floor, or live together, then it’s best to at least be nice to each other and act like you get along. But just because you’re around each other a lot doesn’t mean you need to be besties. It’s great to include everyone, but not if it’s going to seem fake or make you unhappy. Be nice, be polite, be honest. But don’t be friends with everyone just because you feel obligated to. You’re allowed to keep your distance from someone or not always include them if they’re just not someone you want to have around you all the time. You don’t have to feel guilty. Trying to include people is nice, but don’t live your life around it. Hang out with the people who make you happy.
4. Stay inside the lines
Coloring inside of the lines is a skill that we’re praised for mastering. When we learn to do something “the right way” as a kid, we’re celebrated, and it’s something we keep in the back of our minds as we get older. Do things the way we learned to do them. Stay inside the lines. There isn’t one way to do everything. If you color outside the lines, you might accidentally create a beautiful masterpiece you wouldn’t have otherwise. We don’t need to be just like everyone else. Being different is a fabulous thing. Take advantage of it. Break some rules. Coloring inside of the lines is probably meant to teach self-control, but it also seems to go against self-expression a little bit, too. Don’t suppress your desire to express yourself, in whatever way you want. That’s one of the most important lessons we can learn. Be yourself.
5. Be a big kid
Being a big kid always seemed to be the goal. Do this like a big kid. Act like a big kid. We were so encouraged to act grown up, and we still are. Sure, we’ve grown up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t still act like a kid sometimes. We were always reminded to act like a big kid, and now I think we need reminders to act like a kid. Laugh at stupid things. Don’t take everything so seriously. Make a mess and have a blast doing it. Just because we’re getting older on the outside doesn’t mean we always have to act like it on the inside. Acting like a child is seeing joy in places where adults can’t always find it, and that’s beautiful. Be a big kid when it’s warranted, but when there’s nothing to lose, be a kid — bring yourself back to kindergarten, when things were a whole lot simpler.