Paolina Milana, Author & Founder of MadnessToMagic.com
It’s appropriate, if not a bit amusing, that October’s Emotional Wellness Month ends with that kid-approved holiday Halloween. After all, if you’re anything like me, following the past several weeks of sharing thoughts on some very adult topics, including:
- How physical health isn’t possible without mental health;
- A better understanding of what it means to not be okay;
- Using our history of unprecedented events as comfort, knowing that we made it through those all the wiser (hopefully) and will make it through today’s as well;
- Speaking to ageism by remembering who we are and valuing our worth; and,
- Becoming more aware of and learning how to deal with depression, ours or other’s.
…has resulted in the need for some playtime and a break from the challenges of present day life. It’s natural, given all we’re dealing with (pandemic, politics, personal and professional issues) that the continuous wearing of masks (literally and figuratively) is leading to a growing fatigue. So with October 31 on the horizon — the day set aside for children and for wearing masks of another kind plus happy or haunting costumes and, let’s not forget, encouraging mass consumption of all kinds of candy — I think we’re all overdue for some fun or, at least, a little time out from “adulting.”
If you’re unfamiliar with that word “adulting” maybe you’ve come to know it as “growing up” or “maturity” or “being responsible”; the act of “adulting” basically involves behavior that satisfies the mundane day-to-day musts of independent living, such as working and paying bills. The opposite of “adulting” includes throwing toddler-worthy tantrums, refusing to take any responsibility, and behaving immaturely.
“Adulting” comes easy to some of us and not so easily to others. But on whatever end of that spectrum we may find ourselves, I don’t think any one of us would argue that we’re exhausted. As the world spins faster and technology and marketing and media bombard us with mixed messages of who we should be or what we ought to be thinking and doing or how we could have more or what we would gain with less, we’re no longer sure which way to turn or what the right answers are.
And guess what? It’s okay not to know. It’s okay to feel at times as if we’re faking it. It’s okay to fail and to wonder WTF…?
The irony of life or “adulting” is that the way to not get caught up in all of the day-to-day strife and to not lose sight of all that life is really meant to be is to approach our lives as if we are children again.
Now am I suggesting that we stop paying bills or refuse to share our toys with others? Not at all. But what I am saying is to pay attention to that kid that’s still inside every one of us. If she needs a nap, let her nap. If he’s feeling overwhelmed and needs a good cry, let him cry.
Children are resilient and can handle whatever’s thrown their way, in great part, because they live in the moment and feel every emotion without judgement. Giving yourself the same freedom is empowering. So addressing your own fears, giving yourself a hug, showing yourself compassion, speaking your truth, and taking time out of busy schedules to play is how to get back to the best of being a kid – and how to manage adulting, especially during challenging times.
If you’re not quite sure how to even start letting your inner child out, or you’re worried that to do so might send you off into a childlike shirking of duties and damage the reputation you’ve worked so hard to build, relax. It won’t. This isn’t “all or nothing” and you can start simply with these ideas:
- Get your mischief on. ZOOM calls with a shirt, tie, and no pants? Awesome. Starting out your mornings with the breakfast of champions, and your case, you’ve decided that’s chocolate cake? Delish! Playing pranks (especially spooky haunted house ones) on the others in your home? Outstanding! Mischief is not a “bad” thing, as long as nobody gets hurt. The definition of mischievous is having a fondness for causing trouble in a playful way. That doesn’t sound bad, does it? As a matter of fact, being cooped up now for months, maybe it’s just what you need to get your spark back. Your inner child is dying for a chance to let loose. Suppressing the desire to let off steam and cause a little mischief is what might be halting you from fully experiencing the joy of living.
- Recruit a posse. Remember the cool kids’ clique in high school or the club house from childhood? Maybe it’s time to create your own club. Or to join one, just for fun! Dancing for no reason, reminiscing about those more carefree days: There are lots of people you probably know who are dying for somebody to get something started and invite them to play along. Why not let it be you? What’s holding you back from donning your cape and your plastic sword and forming your own “never too old” kind of crazy club? NOTHING.
- Blow it out on Halloween. 2020’s October 31 is not going to be like any other. Doesn’t mean it has to be sad or bad or anything less than spooktacular! Who says this Halloween can’t be better than whatever’s come before? Deck out your home with orange and black lights and ghostly figures hanging from your trees. Make costumes from all of those Amazon boxes you’ve had delivered. Turn your plain old meatloaf for dinner into one that looks like a brain and for dessert, whip up one of those gross kitty litter cakes. A little bit of “ewww” fun doesn’t have to cost a lot. AND switching up the ordinary to something extra-ordinary is key to living life as a kid again and joyfully, as it was meant to be.
Get inspired. Reigniting that spark within you doesn’t have to be as complicated as we grownups sometimes make it. And it doesn’t have to be contingent on reaching some goal (a job, a soulmate, a number on the scale). It’s all about living in the moment, finding the joy in the present, and loving every step of the journey. For a 5-minute fix on feeling like a kid again, “Seriously! Are We THERE Yet?!” is the picture book for every one of us on life’s journey.