Tired of Adulting? Try Relearning These 4 Lessons From Your Toddler Self
August 3, 2018
Why is it that we love #FlashbackFriday so much? Is it because we get to relive some of our greatest hits with our followers? Get to share that hilarious baby pic of us in the bathtub covered in bubbles—or is it because we miss how simple and carefree things used to be?
If you’re like me, then it’s the latter. I miss the innocence of childhood. I miss having my dad read me a book every night before I went to sleep. I miss how curious I was about life. I was never ashamed to ask a billion questions (even though I know it got on my dad’s nerves sometimes). I miss know exactly what I did and didn't want to do. I miss spending every morning before school watching Nickelodeon cartoons while my dad got ready to walk me to the bus stop.
From Rugrats, Rocket Power, CatDog, Hey Arnold! and Doug I could spend hours watching them. But of all these cartoons, the Rugrats was hands down one of my favorites. Why, you ask?
Well, the Rugrats taught me what it means to be a kid and how to be myself. There was no limit to the amount of fun Tommy, Chuckie, and Phil & Lil would have together and they never cared about the opinions of older kids or adults. So, that’s exactly how I spent my childhood. From going to Central Park Zoo and pretending I was exploring the Amazon with my little brother to reading the dictionary for fun, I always did whatever made me happy.
But somewhere between my teenage years and adulthood, I forgot what it means to be my most authentic self.
I'm not alone in this. According to Psychology Today,: “A hunger for authenticity guides us in every age and aspect of life. It drives our explorations of work, relationships, play, and prayer. Teens and twentysomethings try out friends, fashions, hobbies, jobs, lovers, locations, and living arrangements to see what fits and what's ‘just not me.’”
'A hunger for authenticity guides us in every age and aspect of life.'
The moment we transition from childhood to adulthood, we’re desperate to figure out who we are. But, what we forget is that to be our most authentic selves, we have to get back in touch with our inner child.
So, how do you awaken your inner child? By taking cues from your younger self.
1. Ask: 'Do I Have To?'
Ready for a truth bomb? When I see a toddler having a "Do I have to?!" temper tantrum , I admire their boundary-setting. Yup—they know exactly what they want to do and what they definitely do want to do. And they're not afraid to say it.
As we get older, yes, we have more responsibilities, but we also start to assume we have to say "yes" to everything—even things we don't want to or necessarily have to do.
The extra work assignment.
The all-day outing with friends.
The dog sitting job that will suck up your entire weekend—with no pay.
We get so comfortable accomodating everyone else that we forget how to fight for the things we want. We forget our own power.
So, let’s bring back the "Do I have to?" gut check.
Next time plans come your way (beyond, you know, having to show up for work) see if you're feeling more "I'm so there" or "Do I have to?" Check what you want before you give your time away.
What you might be surprised to find: Once you start asking the question, you realize don't have to do everything.
2. Embrace Your Quirks
Before social media, before other people’s opinion started to matter to us, we only had one job: simply be ourselves.
We never cared what anyone thought about us. So much so that we would wear five different colors at once, share terrible but silly knock-knock jokes, or do the "I’m a little teapot" dance on repeat without batting an eye. Or, in my case, run around my aunt’s wedding popping balloons and having the greatest time while doing so. Unfortunately, I have no memory of this, but my dad said I made everyone’s night. By simply being myself, I was able to put a smile on the faces of all the adults in the room.
But then, we become adults.
We lose that power because we become so worried by what people might say. We'd rather be like everyone else because being different suddenly isn't easy. Anyone can follow the status quo but it takes enormous amounts of courage to step outside of the mold. But it's doable—and worth it.
The next time you feel like hiding behind a mask, remember that it’s OK to be the class clown. Why a class clown? They don’t care what people think about them—and it brings joy to everyone else. So take that mask off and let yourself shine. You’ll be surprised by how many people will appreciate your little quirks.
3. Be Fearfully Fearless
We’re all scared of something!
Maybe it’s public speaking, heights, or tiny spaces. Does the thought of your fear make your hands clammy and your heart beat out of your chest? Is that why you haven’t conquered it, yet?
As adults, we’re conditioned to view our fears as a sign of weakness. We spend years trying to avoid them. But what if we embraced our fears as a learning experience, not a daunting challenge?
Whenever I come across this issue, I look to Chuckie Finster from the Rugrats for advice. Oh sweet, lovable Chuckie! He was definitely the scaredy-cat of the group but that’s what made him so relatable. Without encouragement from his friends, Chuckie always struggled to conquer his fears. But the moment he had their support, it’s like his fears would vanish. And after he conquered a fear, he realized that the very things he feared weren’t so scary after all.
You have the power to do the same.
Think back to a moment when you were a kid and were terrified to do something. Maybe it was jumping into the pool for the first time or riding roller coasters. Remember the number of times you tried to conquer your fear and failed. And then one day you did it without even thinking about it. Then from that moment on you enjoyed jumping in the pool or dragged your friends on every roller coaster at Disneyland.
As adults, we need to remember: You can’t have growth without fear.
Whenever you conquer a fear, you learn just how far you’re willing to push yourself and how to approach other fears, like speaking in front of a large crowd or traveling alone, with an encouraging and positive mindset. So the next time you feel scared or terrified, remember if no fear was too large for Chuckie to conquer, the same applies to you.
4. Bring Back Your ‘I Can Do Anything' Attitude
Who doesn’t love a good adventure?
As a kid, I loved hearing my friends’ stories about the mischievous things they were up to. From climbing trees to digging in the dirt for worms to getting into someone’s makeup, they had free rein to explore. Unlike my friends, I wasn’t allowed to play outside much growing up, but Tommy Pickles from Rugrats helped me learn to explore wherever I am.
As the fearless leader of the group, Tommy always led his friends on challenging but fun adventures—some of which happened in the comfort of his own home. And it was those adventures that showed me how to use my imagination to have fun and that I can do anything.
I don’t know who decided we have to abandon our adventurous nature when we get older, but I’m here to remind you to get reacquainted with it. It’s time to take chances again and step outside our comfort zones.
And if that makes you nervous, know there is nothing wrong with that. Just look to your younger self for guidance. Let them lead the way. You don’t have be mischievous like you used to, but you can open your eyes to new things.
Always wanted to try that uni (sea urchin) dish at your favorite sushi restaurant?
Or, get that pixie cut you’ve seen one of your customers wear?
That’s the beauty of adventure: It’s what you make it. So get out there and try something new today. Make that Rugrats-watching toddler you proud.