Recently, I’ve been reminiscing on “the good times”, and for some reason, I have heavy rose-tinted glasses on thinking about my childhood. Anyway, what I’ve really been reflecting on is the freedom and bravery of youth.
I have never ever been described as shy. Rambunctious, lively, talkative, exuberant were all words (rightly) used to describe me, and as long as I was doing well at school my parents really didn’t mind or try hard to change that about me. I had a bunch of friends and was involved in a number of extracurriculars. So for a while, before society started to kind of, sort of, mind my business for me, I was free.
I was terrible at picking my own clothes, but my mum would get tired of arguing with me and let me express myself, and what I would choose was a fashion disaster. But I liked it, and I loved the way it made me feel, so that was all that mattered. I asked a lot of “annoying” and repetitive questions in class. However, most of my teachers seemed to care about making sure I understood things and didn’t call my questions stupid, so I learned a lot. I have always enjoyed dancing but before puberty hit, I would really break it down on the dance-floor. I remember once being sprayed at another kid’s birthday party at the height of my reign as Lagos’ most formidable child dancer. I have asked my parents for that money several times over the years but so far they’ve been pretending not to know what I’m talking about. I was also keen on trying new things. Not worried about being “bad” at it. You know, enjoying life with zest, and vim (and no worries too, but that’s what having zero bills and obligations will do to you).
I miss all those things, but what I really miss the most is curiosity. The world does an amazing job of discouraging curiosity. Culture, religion, family, work, and the daily grind seem to conspire against cultivating and maintaining curiosity. Let’s not even get into the shame now attached to admitting a lack of knowledge. It’s all so bizarre. How can it be more stupid to look for knowledge than to pretend to know? HOW?
I really do think we have been living lives that are not as full or happy, because we are weighed down by what others think of us, even in the mundane. We don’t laugh as we would like to, or dance, or travel, or change careers, or start new hobbies, or new side hustles, or date, or break up, or dress as we would like. In the big and small things, we’ve boxed ourselves into corners and seethe in silent resentment, wishing and hoping we could be free. I’m working at freeing myself, one step at a time, and hope I don’t lose my nerve in the process. Life is too short, and 2020 has shown us that anything can happen to cost you the time you already don’t have enough of. Why waste time overly bothered about what people think about your decisions, especially as you are not hurting them or you?
What have you become more encumbered about chasing or doing as you’ve gotten older?