When I was a child, I simply thought that a day would arrive where a switch just flipped and I was an adult. That I would just feel different and be more confident in my ability to take on the world, and that moment would be recognizable in an instant. I would no longer be the young girl I was and instead have blossomed into the woman I was meant to be—everything would make sense. But when would that moment arrive? Would it be my birthday? The day of my high school graduation? College? When?
I’m 27 years old. So far, that day hasn't arrived. For some reason, I had an idea in my head that I was supposed to grow up and leave all the wonders of childhood behind. That to be an adult, I had to let go of the small joys that children smiled and laughed through every day. But when did that become a requirement of adulthood? When did letting go of the little things have to become a part of growing up?
When the time came for me to go to university, I did little things to try to jump-start the process. I got rid of all my video games. Now, by “video games” I am simply referring to my Nintendo DS and its accompanying Pokémon, Mario, Zoo Tycoon, etc. games. I thought that by removing these little “childish distractions” from my life, my brain would know it was time to flip the switch.
Instead, I fell into a deep depression in college. I didn't feel like I belonged anywhere and felt like I was behind everyone else in terms of progress. They all seemed to have a handle on life already and I was still figuring it out. I still hadn't had that “moment” and I was afraid that it would never come. I looked for things and people to fill the void I felt as someone apart from everyone else. I tried too hard, trusted too easily, and acted too seriously.
Then, years and lessons and genuine friends later, it hit me.
It’s not just a switch that flips and you’re an adult. There is no switch. Adults are simply children who have the experience and willpower to take on the challenges of life head-on and accept the consequences of their actions. That does not mean that they let go—either naturally or by force—of “the little things” to do so.
I started looking for little ways to bring more joy to my life; things that I used to do when I was younger, more carefree. One of my favorite things to do with shopping carts as a child was run them back to their respective receptacles. Whether you are racing something—or someone—in your mind or just feeling the breeze against your face, the little run is exhilarating and I can always remember giggling and returning with a giant smile on my face.
So, the next time I went to the grocery store and finished putting my groceries in the car, I turned around, lined up my target, and ran that cart right past the shopping cart receptacle and all the way back to the front door! I just couldn't help it, I felt that wonderful feeling and laughed as I ran the cart back as fast as I safely could. And as expected, I returned to my car with the biggest smile on my face.
I was able to bring back that joy with just that fun little activity that I enjoyed from my childhood (and at the same time I also made sure my shopping cart was returned to its rightful place)! I continue to run every cart either back to its receptacle or to the front door and, without fail, I am rewarded with a smile stretched across my face every single time—no matter how I was feeling prior or what my experience in the store may have been like.
I've also always been a fan of the rain. One of my favorite memories as a child is being in the pole barn with my parents with the giant sliding door wide open and the rain pouring down outside. My little brother and I had the time of our lives running around in the rain, laughing, playing with the stones in the gravel driveway while our parents watched and did whatever they were doing. Even as I remember it writing it down now, it brings a giant smile to my face. Of course it was the perfect activity to start next!
I was invited to an outdoor photo shoot that one of my close photographer friends was hosting and despite the rainy forecast later in the day, we weren't going to let it deter us! We were greeted with a beautiful day and plenty of beautiful photos as we got to shooting, and then the rain hit—or more like down-poured. And then it hit me while trying to stay dry in the gazebo: What was I waiting for? I joined some other models and photographers enjoying themselves in the
rain and captured some of my favorite photos to-date—which were chosen to be published in Ylle Magazine to boot!
So don’t think you just have to “grow up”. I have been living freer, fuller, and happier by adding little joys back into my life. When you have the chance, take it—jump over those cracks in the sidewalk; play in the rain; splash in that puddle; run that shopping cart back. Enjoy the little things.☺
-Claire Louise Huder