“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” ~Pablo Picasso
It amazes me how often our personalities, habits, and interests as adults resemble the same ones that we had as elementary-aged kids. In fact, I’m convinced that when we are feeling lost, in a rut, or at a crossroads, we should consider the wisdom we had as eight-year-olds.
I first became aware of my love for writing when I was in second grade. When my teacher created a class newspaper, giving each student an individual piece of paper on which to write stories of our choosing, I was in Heaven.
She then arranged each story like a jigsaw puzzle onto multiple pages in order to make copies for each of us. Seeing my handwritten stories “published” onto paper for the entire class left me practically swooning.
It was during this same time that my infatuation with music developed, and I first started using music to express myself.
When my neighborhood boyfriend and I broke up, I did what any second-grade, romantically-inclined and musically-obsessed child would do. I danced and sang “Don’t Turn Around” by Ace of Base in my driveway.
Imagining I was singing, “Don’t turn around, ‘cause you’re gonna see my heart breaking. Don’t turn around, I don’t want you seeing me cry,” to my long-lost/four-houses-down love interest felt like the best possible way of expressing my feelings. Plus, I felt like a rock star—which, I can report back, is a great way to boost spirits.
While my elementary-school boyfriend choices never lasted and I have yet to become a famous Ace of Base cover singer, I still consider music and writing to be my deepest passions. Whether I’m writing articles, sending emails to friends, or merely jotting thoughts in a journal, I feel like I’m in the flow.
Similarly, going to concerts, listening to music, writing music, singing along to my iPod in the car, and playing musical instruments fills me with such joy that it’s hard to contain all that passion without it giving me goosebumps.
Nobody ever told me to like music and writing. For whatever reason, it just became something that I was passionate about. Yet, I still went through many years of racking my brain for clues about what I should do “when I grow up” before I started to take seriously my interests back in the second grade.
When I stopped trying to ignore those deep-seated passions, that same bliss from my days of writing for my classroom newspaper or singing in the driveway came right back.
If you, likewise, are currently in a position of trying to imagine your future without much luck, try looking backward first. What were you passionate about in elementary school? What were the hobbies that you chose for yourself that nobody told you to do?
Did you have a serious rock collection? Perhaps you’d enjoy geology. Couldn’t keep your hands out of the dirt? Maybe you’d love being a horticulturist or a farmer.
Were you never able to walk past a dog or a cat in your neighborhood without stopping to pet them? I bet you’d thrive at being a veterinarian or an animal trainer.
Of course, we probably all went through phases of being interested in something as kids that we have no desire to do anymore. Despite my interest in Pogs, Boondoggles, and Giga Pets circa the sixth grade, I’m not about to deplete my savings to start my very own Pog-Boondoggle-Giga Pet Emporium (though I have to admit, that does sound pretty tempting).
Still, there may be pieces of your history that have been forgotten; if you uncovered them now, implementing them even in small ways, they may be just the ticket to bring you a renewed sense of enthusiasm or creativity.
If you loved art more than anything else as a kid but are not in a position to leave your desk job, then maybe you could see if there are community art classes you could sign up for on the weekend, or you could create a weekly craft night with your friends.
If animals always made your heart skip a beat but your landlord won’t allow pets, perhaps volunteering at an animal shelter would satiate that need for four-legged friendship.
If you were the class clown growing up but feel like you aren’t laughing as much anymore, maybe you’d enjoy catching some comedians at the local comedy club. Or even doing some stand-up yourself.
As we all continue to age and expand our ever-growing knowledge, I believe it would be smart to remind ourselves every once in a while of the innate wisdom we had as kids, when we were free to play and explore our interests without wondering what they said about us or how prestigious they seemed to others.
There may be hidden truths about your passions buried in your childhood that needs rediscovering, and digging them out may be just the thing you need to create an exciting new path for yourself. (Or at the very least, you can remind yourself and be proud of how impressive that Pog collection was.)
Girl meditating image via Shutterstock