At what point do we decide that we should stop experiencing life and fun the way we did as a child? When do we decide it is juvenile to be silly and play unless it includes a child? More importantly than when, is WHY? I’ve half-heartedly asked myself these questions in the past, but this has been brought top of mind again. The past couple of weeks my oldest child has been away at camp. I receive infrequent letters from her because she is having too much fun to take time to write home. My only indication of how things are going for her comes from pictures posted on the camp website. I scour them daily hoping for a slight glimpse of her. My fear that she is homesick is put to rest when I see her face full of laughter and joy. She is clearly having fun! As I look at the faces of all the girls in the pictures, their energy jumps off the screen. They are loving life and it shows!
Simultaneously, I have been working with a professional on my company and personal branding. One of the many activities she asked me to do was to develop a mood board on Pinterest. I wanted to post pictures of adults with the same joy, fun, and laughter that I saw in the girls’ faces in those camp pictures. I could barely find any!!! I was surprised and saddened. What does this mean?
As I roll this over in my mind, I remember things my 9-year-old daughter has said to me in the past. Once after getting a French manicure, she asked why I didn’t chose a pretty color polish. When I told her this looked more professional, she responded, “Why does professional have to be boring?” Wow. Good question. One other time I mentioned having to attend a Board meeting. She asked, “Mommy, why do have to go to another one of those bording meetings?” In her mind, she thought I was saying boring. She was doing a great job of reading between the lines because usually they are boring, oops, I mean professional.
I have had other confirmations in the past couple of weeks that we adults lose our fun factor. Over the weekend, we had some friends over for dinner. We were discussing our daughters attending camp. One of our guests said, “I want to go to camp! Why don’t we have camps for adults?” I’m sure a few exist but it is not as prevalent as for kids. Why?! I would go! I would love to hang out with new friends by the camp fire laughing about our day while making smores. We now have the ability to pair that with a great wine and we aren’t doing it!
Even worse than losing our ability to tap into our inner child is that we look at those that are lucky enough to do it as if they are doing something wrong. If you saw a female enter a “bording meeting” with bright yellow fingernails, a fun pony tail, and beach t-shirt how would you respond? If you saw a group of men playing a game of freeze-tag in your neighborhood, what would you think? What if they asked you to join them? Social standards might cause us to categorize this type of behavior as immature, unrefined, or unpolished. But why?
That’s another thing! When do we stop asking, “Why?” Is it because we finally drove our parents so crazy asking why over and over again that they warned us to never say it again?! Did we really never ask it again? Did we begin to accept social norms, become boring, lose our curiosity, and stop playing without asking why? Why?
Life as an adult isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. We have more freedom than we did as a child, but we lose sight of it under the weight of our responsibilities. We must build a career, a family, a home, college funds, the list goes on and on. Is it this weight combined with social norms and our failure to ask why that is stealing our inner child joy?
Opioid addiction, anxiety, depression rates, and suicides are rising exponentially. We must begin to ask great questions to find out how to solve this. My questions are, “How would we feel if we decide to begin letting our inner child have fun again?”, “What would we learn and possibly change if we started asking why again?”, “What if we continue to follow the trend of losing the suit/tie and redefine professional?” and “If we could tap into our inner child at least once per week, what could that do for our psyche?”
Truthfully, I have no proof that tapping back into our inner child would help with the problems mentioned above. I know they are very complex issues. This blog has been a complete brain storm rather than following my normal pattern of tell a story, present questions, and offer researched solutions. What I do know is that I am tired of missing out on the fun I see in my daughter’s face. I want to have fun like that again! Also, I am going to begin to ask why much more often. And I am going to redefine professional to reflect who I am and what my inner child loves. I invite you all to come with me! Anyone up for a game of freeze-tag?? Let me know your thoughts!
-Gina Simpson is a certified professional coach and founder of Soluna Strategies. If you are interested in working with Gina to reach your full potential, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her passion is your success!