At what age do we stop giving ourselves permission to play, dabble, and experiment?
At what age do we become fixated on looking perfectly put together and always on top of everything?
At what age does it become unforgivable to make mistakes?
At what age do we start taking ourselves (and life) so seriously?
Trevor just turned seven (I can hardly believe it!), so I’ve been asking myself these questions a lot lately. The innocent, non-judgmental playfulness he brings to life means everything to me. I couldn’t stand for him to ever lose that willingness to follow his own heart and his own joy.
Trevor loves to experiment and get messy. He loves to be silly and goofy; to laugh and to make others laugh.
I feel like adults can (and should!) learn so much from a child’s perspective. We get so caught up in projecting an image of “success” and “perfection” and “accomplishment.” We’re intent on proving to the world that we have it all figured out (and yet … who actually does??)
We completely lose sight of the fact that life is messy, confusing and basically a comedy of errors. Striving for perfection is an impossible goal in this world! Not only do we lose all of our joy in aiming to look so perfectly “on top of it all,” but we completely stall ourselves from taking even tiny steps toward following our hearts and intuition.
Here’s the solution: we have to shift our priorities in how we approach each day.
For example, I’ve started scheduling time in my calendar to simply be playful; to find fun new ways to be creative. Setting that simple goal of non-judgmental self-expression is the sole reason I’ve recently returned to this site. And I’ve been experiencing so much more joy with it than in the old recipe days, when I was striving for higher Google search numbers and more followers, etc.
Here’s my suggestion: give yourself permission to try that new project or hobby you’ve been thinking about, without any goals whatsoever other than simple experimentation.
In other words, allow yourself to stumble, mess up, and be seen as less than perfect.
Think about it like this: if you never gave yourself permission to have a less-than-pristine kitchen, you’d never be able to cook at all. Cooking inevitably involves splatters and spills; a little milk on the counter, some crumbs on the floor, some batter on your fingers. You go into the kitchen knowing things will get a little messy, but also knowing that something delicious will come out of it.
We have to bring full acceptance to the crazy-messy-chaotic aspects of life and each day.
Here’s an affirmation I’ve been using a lot lately: “I’m willing to take messy action today.”
We can return to that innocent, non-judgmental playfulness we had as little kids. We just have to shift our goals from striving to be seen as “perfect” (which was always just an act anyway!) to embracing ourselves as “messy learners”!