This I Believe (Final)

Be more like a five year-old

I hesitate… I overthink… I stutter… I wish I were more like my five year-old self.

With growing up comes an increase in freedom, accompanied with more restrictions. One becomes more independent and makes his own decisions, but social expectations are increased. Think about it… it is socially unacceptable for a college aged person to have a public breakdown over their favorite pizza being sold out. In comparison, a five year-old crying hysterically when his mom refuses to give him pizza is considered normal.

I remember first starting to notice the added social responsibilities that came with growing up when I disagreed with a table manner my strict Italian mother wanted me to learn. On a typical school day in my old house in France, my brother and I came home for lunch. I was looking forward to eating the day’s meal: ravioli with Alfredo sauce. After eating most of my ravioli, I took a pause and rested my arms on the table. “Elbows off the table!”, my mother demanded. From a young age, I have always questioned everything. Therefore, instead of simply following her order, I told her that if people were to judge me over such a minuscule detail, I would not want to be their friend anyway. Of course, my mom ignored my opinion and told me that if I didn’t do what she said right away, I would be punished. I sighed, and unwillingly lifted my elbows off the table. I was frustrated and I kept thinking about the insignificance of such manners. If I was most comfortable with my elbows leaning on the table, why was this an issue?

While having to follow certain table manners bothered me, I found other aspects of growing up much more disturbing. As adults, we are supposed to keep our feelings mainly to ourselves. Genuine self-expression is crucial to one’s well being. But heavy judgment is placed on those who reveal too many emotions. These limitations can be detrimental to people; yet we uphold such standards in every day life. Why are we trained to keep feelings hidden, and why should we continue to accept this? Of course, sharing everything that is on our minds, like some children do, would not be optimal. But being a little impulsive at times and not always having a filter could help us be more honest and genuine.

You may think I am just some lazy college student wishing she could rid herself of all her responsibilities and go back to being a child. While that is something I think about when I am studying for an exam at 2 am, wishing I could time travel some 10 years in the past, I believe that we can learn a lot from the blunt and lighthearted toddlers. They put themselves first and do what is most comfortable for them. They are not concerned with others’ judgments and this makes them the most free-spirited people in society. We should place less importance on insignificant details, such as table manners, and focus on being our genuine selves. If you find yourself connecting with someone, spend more time with them and tell them you enjoy their company. If you do not agree with someone’s opinion, do not be afraid to politely disagree and express your thoughts. And most importantly, if you want to achieve something, be a little selfish and go for it, just like a five year old would.

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