Back in the day, a friend tried to change the phrase “let’s hang out” to “let’s play.” We were teenagers and pushing our way into adulthood, yet we latched on to selective sentiments of simplicity and innocence.
The term “let’s play” didn’t stick. We moved on. We grew up.
As an adult, we get pulled in so many directions. But when was the last time you just played? And I’m talking played in the sense of silliness. Playing in the way that it’s not for professional development or a hobby, but for fun. Because you want to, because you need to? Played to the point where you laughed at your own laughter?
A few weeks ago I met a friend and her daughters at a playground for coffee, vitamin D, and some much needed friend time. As, we, the adults sat and chitchatted, I watched the small one climb a large rope-ladder and finish with the largest smile I’ve ever seen. I listened to her powerful giggles as she slid down the slide.
Energy in kids is electric. If you could convert one child’s laugh into electricity, how much power would it emit?
I believe adults can produce a similar amount of energy but most are too scared to open up and enjoy themselves. Too scared to feel, to receive, to turn that energy into something larger than themselves.
I’m one of those adults. I get self conscious about my feelings way too often. I may be at a movie or event that’s supposed to entertain and help me escape reality. I may feel happy. Really happy, but then look around and no one is as openly happy as I am. So instead of embracing those feelings and enjoying them, I’ll “dumb” them down based on how I’m gauging everyone else is feeling. And that’s stupid. Going with the flow is really stupid.
Even as I write this, I’m torn. The mature side of me knows that people need to monitor their feelings so that they don’t self-destruct and offend others. While the other part of me wants us to find the balance between embracing our feelings and turning them into actionable passion.
I’m an emotional person and I let my emotions rule me way more than they should. My “feelings” encourage me to bite off more than I can chew and perform better than I ever have in my life. It invites heartache, stress, and give me an excuse to do something that only the momentum of feeling amazing could.
The ability to feel is a strength. And learning how to turn those feelings–of glee, of excitement, of curiosity, of anxiety, of stress, of anger–into energy that drives the flow of my work forward is important.
Kids feel what they feel, when they feel it, because they feel that way. I want to follow the lead of my friend’s girls on the playground: embrace feeling as a good thing and put an end to feeling socially awkward and apologetic about it. And dedicate more time to play.
Photo Credit: Balakov