We were checking out of the modest beachfront hotel after a family weekend getaway. Just past the reception desk, the hotel gift store stood, boxes of sweets and other impulse buys prominently displayed.
My daughter tugged on my hand, and asked me if she could have her 5 Dirhams (about $1.5) I was holding for her. I reluctantly complied. It was her money after all, pressed into her hand from Grandma the weekend before.
I handed her the 5 Dirham note, and started walking towards the hotel gift store. I doubted she’d get much for her cash, but knew it would futile to try and talk her out of it. I just hoped we’d get it done quickly, so we could be on our way home soon.
I turned around, surprised. She hadn’t followed me to the store. She was still standing by the reception desk.
“Can you help me? I can’t reach.”
She was standing on her tip toes, straining to reach the Red Cross collection jar on the reception desk, her small 6-year-old hand not quite reaching the top of the jar.
Blinking back the sudden tears of emotion, I lifted her up so she could donate her precious 5 Dirhams to someone less fortunate than her. I couldn’t decide if I was proud, touched, or ashamed that I had assumed she wanted sweets.
My little girl had just embraced her inner adult, something that we adults tend to forget to do.
With all the hype about embracing your inner child, it’s just not fashionable to actually be an adult these days. It’s not the done thing to get out of our own heads in this increasingly me-me-me focused time of our lives.
Me vs Everyone
A child firmly believes he’s the centre of the universe. This is a good thing to believe growing up, before social norms and shame / guilt / [name your poison] types of learned behaviours take over.
An adult chooses to help others, and in so doing, helps himself.
You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want. – Zig Ziglar.
Creativity vs Accountability
It’s wonderful to watch a child unleash her inner creativity. It’s even more exciting when an adult puts the reigns on self-criticism and creates without boundaries.
Yet, beyond the creative sessions, an adult is accountable to deliver on the project she used her creativity to execute. Choosing to be accountable is what gets you ahead and gets you to your destination.
Closure and accountability are often inconsistent with creativity.
Battle vs War
A child fights every single battle. My toy. My biscuit. Mine. Give me. No broccoli. No bed time.
Everything is a confrontation, everything is a war and tantrums are aplenty.
When you embrace your inner adult, you know all about choosing your battles wisely. You accept the differences in how people are and how they do things, and while you don’t avoid all conflict, you choose carefully the ones that are worth getting worked up about.
As an adult, you ask yourself, “Does it really matter?” before you throw a tantrum.
Following vs Leading
Children are taught to hold the hand of an adult when they cross the street. They learn about pedestrian crossings and hopefully live in a place where they are actually respected (you know who you are ….).
While a child lets others show him the way and help him cross the street, an adult gets to choose which way to go and which street to cross. It could be the highway where hordes of people are galloping down, or it could be a barely visible trail that you decide to carve for yourself.
Dessert vs Vegetables
A child would eat dessert all day if you let him. He would only do the stuff he likes, and stay away from vegetables, baths, and putting toys away.
Adults have the choice to eat dessert all day if they wish – and I must admit, there are days I do just that. But an adult also knows that some unpleasant tasks are necessary, especially the ones that take him outside of his comfort zone.
An adult knows to balance his vegetables and desserts to form a firm foundation for success.
Yes, it is important to embrace one’s inner adult at the right time and place. Embrace your inner adult when it comes to helping others, picking your battles, exercise leadership, and stepping outside of your comfort zone.
But be sure to leave plenty of room in your life to be fearless, persistent, curious, excited, hungry for life and be easily delighted – just like your inner child.