1. Telling people exactly how you feel. One of the reasons I absolutely love children is that they mostly don’t know how to fake how they feel – those are things we learn to do as adults, and it’s very much a shame. Children also know when you don’t like them and they are not afraid to call you out on it. As adults, ever so often we have to do some performing and pretending just to get through the day or to “keep the peace.” What a pity.
2. Asking for what you need. It’s kind of funny that one of the most important things humans do is communicate; and as we get older, in theory, we ought to get better at it. But we actually get worse. How many times do we not ask for help when we really need it? How many times do we suffer in silence simply because we do not wish to trouble those around us? When we were children, we couldn’t help ourselves; we had to ask. When did we learn to be so afraid of needing?
3. Being proud of your accomplishments. In the era of the humblebrag and not-so-humblebrags, everyone is afraid to just be proud of themselves. Humility is great but humility does not mean being timid or having some false sense of modesty and putting yourself down. Or not talking about the good and great things you’ve done. Have you ever seen children build or create something really cool and then tell you, “Oh it’s okay” or “It’s not a big deal.” Nope, they’re excited about it and excited for you to know about it.
4. Telling people you love them (and meaning it). I have a sister who I am ten years older and I will never forget the first day she told me she loved me – so easily and honestly in her childhood innocence; no obligation to do so, no questioning of if she meant it, I just knew she did. As adults, we question everything and we have to. Often because with enough experience and time, we find that people who claim to love us don’t necessarily always mean it.
5. Saying you’re sorry and meaning it. There is so much humility involved in saying sorry and meaning it. And it seemed to just come a whole lot easier as kids. Now, it feels we say sorry just to “clear the air” and not necessarily because we truly recognized that our words or actions may have caused pain, oftentimes to someone we love. Children almost always say their sorry because they recognize others other’s hurts easily.
6. Being unafraid to try new things. Many children, even children who grow up in less than ideal circumstances often have the least amount of fear. Life hasn’t taught them to view almost everything as a potential threat – they just kind of go for it. For even the most spontaneous of us, we approach so many things that we’re trying for the first time or things we haven’t tried in a long time, with a great amount of fear. But when we were kids, we trusted ourselves more.
7. Being curious about everything. Children are curious about the world and they approach it with a sense of wonder. By the time most of us hit our mid-twenties these days, we’re convinced that life has little left to teach us. And yes, the world is still round and it’ll be here long after we’re gone. But there is so much to learn still, accidentally and on purpose. Think of all the wonderful books there are in the world and how we probably won’t get to read them all. Or all the places and people we’ll never meet. Doesn’t that make you sad?
8. Crying. When we were young, we cried when we were hurt. We cried even when people were watching. Now, even when we’re alone as adults, sometimes we don’t even give ourselves the opportunity to cry for fear of seeing ourselves as weak. The thing is, crying is human and sometimes it’s necessary and we need to have that childlike humility to do it.
9. Knowing who you really are without identities and stuff and things. If you had asked me, “Who are you?” when I was five, I would have probably responded with, “Kovie!” or “a princess” or a “really smart girl.” Now I barely know what to say because there’s either so much to say or so much I have to think about, before I say something. We’ve got so many things to think about and wrestle with as adults that knowing who we really are becomes a question we don’t even want to confront. When really, it should be simple.
10. Trusting your gut. Another reason I love children is because they almost always go with their first instinct. As we grow up, most of us begin to doubt that very first feeling in our gut. And indeed it makes sense because experience teaches us that sometimes we were wrong. But I’d take being wrong over the paralysis and indecisiveness of worrying about every little choice we make because we think we’re older and wiser.
11. Getting excited over little things. Children get excited over the smallest things – a smile, 99-cent candy, etc. But as adults we like to tell people things like, “Simple pleasures for simple minds,” when they get excited easily. Sometimes I think we’re so afraid to be happy about the little things we encounter every day because it feels like the moment we get happy, sadness is waiting around the corner ready to take it away. Lately, I’ve been thinking that if a part of life is always going to be mundane and/or filled with sadness, then every little thing that brings happiness is worth celebrating.
12. Forgetting and forgiving quickly. The truth is many of us have scars from childhood that we’re still carrying around with us into adulthood – some are small and some are big. But I almost feel that when we were children, we would let our hurts go very quickly because we didn’t want to be weighed down with them. As adults, we let our hurts become chips on our shoulders and armors that we used to defend ourselves, even when no one is attacking us.
13. Living in the moment. I get that we have to be functioning adults with rents to pay and 401ks to worry about. But guess what none of us are going to the grave with? Any of the stuff we have, or own. If we’ve lived well and rightly, we might get to reminisce about really great memories. Children know how to only pay attention to the most important moments when they’re happening but far too many of us are already onto the next moment when the one we’re in has barely finished.
14. Dreaming your wildest themes. Adulthood means being you know, “practical” and “realistic.” You don’t have to tell me twice, I think of myself as a pragmatic person. But I think 8 year-old me is sad sometimes for the girl who didn’t think dreams had limits, who thought anything is possible. I guess maybe I still do think so but I mostly have to keep those things to myself (like we all do) lest we get told to get our head out of the clouds. Never mind the fact that the clouds feel more real than most other things.
15. Asking someone if they’d like to be your friend. This may seem trivial but welcome to life where we all need people in our corner ready to laugh, cry, and indulge in some wine and cookies on a random week night. With our desire to all seem so cool and you know, not needy, we’ve become afraid to meet people and take the time to get to know them and simply say, “Hey, let’s be friends.” Trust me when I say if you can keep that childish enthusiasm, you’ll always meet friends wherever you go.