“What, are you like 4?” my friend asked when I came over to watch cartoons wearing a Stitch onesie as if it were the most normal thing in the world.
I got used to this question after countless occasions, along with getting strange looks from screaming at seeing candy shops, skipping across the road instead of walking and putting on wacky outfits at thrift shops just for fun.
When I act childlike, I feel more creative, imaginative and more open to possibilities. I feel as if there are no limits and ask endless questions to try and understand the diverse world we live in.
Too often, I see college students rushing to become adults, engaging in behaviors that they feel makes them seem more mature or overthinking to the point of constant negative thoughts. However, college is not just about what is ahead, but what is happening now. More than grades, it is about building relationships, personal growth and learning to understand and empathize with others.
When I think about my own experiences with children working as a camp counselor, what stands out to me the most is how well they live in the present, with little concern about what’s “cool” or what’s accepted by society. They live with a contagious spirit, refusing to be placed in a box or molded into someone they are not.
While there is a time and place for people to be mature, organized and fulfill commitments, it is important to disengage from time to time and experience true joy. For one, a lot of everyday activities college students partake in are sedentary, whether that is sitting at a desk or watching TV. It wouldn’t hurt to once in a while get up and dance like a maniac or sing like no one is listening. Another activity could be to join an intramural sports team or go to the beach and look for cool rocks to name.
Holding on to that childlike state of mind enables people to experience the world in a different way instead of letting society suppress their imagination, creativity and the ability to find pleasure in the little things.
If students were to bring that childlike energy to the classroom or to their work, they could see an increase in their own happiness. For example, the benefits of play for adults include relieving stress, improving brain function, improving relationships, stimulating the mind and boosting creativity, according to HelpGuide. Surely the childlike experiences bring back some nostalgic memories as well, when life was a bit simpler.
Embrace the chaos and stay curious, because adulthood is right around the corner.