Children avoid it and adults will give everything to have a piece of it — rest, staying still, a moment of nothing. When we were kids, our parents would force us to take a nap in the middle of the afternoon and we would do just about anything to resist it. We escaped to the neighbor’s, pretended to sleep, or just lay there with our eyes closed thinking about what our friends and playmates were doing. Now that we’re adults, how we wish we be told to doze off at midday and just have some rest. And peace of mind too if we could find it.
Being in the twenties is difficult. It is that awful period when we get our first taste of adulthood, the real, undeniable kind that doesn’t come with a bow. You thought you had a good grasp of it shortly after overcoming puberty or attaining a college degree. But when you’re in your twenties, it all explodes in your face. Adulthood is a full, dense, oh-so-heavy box that is brimming with all things explosive and shocking that we, most of the time, are not really prepared for. How did life become so difficult so suddenly? Times like this, we like to stop, look out the window, and relive our juvenile days. We envy the kiddie version of ourselves and we wish we could be that child again. But what is it about childhood that we really miss?
1. We were never alone.
We hated always having someone to watch over us. Hated it. Always. Damn guardians won’t leave us alone for a minute so we could have a little bit more time playing at the arcade or stay a little bit longer at the playground. But now, looking back, it is one of those things we sorely wish we could have a little bit more of — time with the people who cared for us. They were always there to blow away the pain when we got hurt or wounded, or care for us when we were sick, or stay with us when we were scared of the dark or thunder. Lucky are those who didn’t lose anyone but for the rest of us who had to let go of some of the people who had been with us since the beginning, there is always a painful jolt thinking about what could have been had they stayed.
2. We had all the time in the world.
Maybe it’s just me but it feels like the days used to be longer. When we were kids, our days were long, really long. Our mornings were filled with hours of playing, watching cartoons, and helping our parents and siblings with whatever. Our weekdays were even longer — eight subjects and recess! And when the clock hit 9pm, we called it a night. Yet, strangely, time seemed to be dragging its feet.
Today, there’s always not enough time. And for other things, we just don’t time at all. How did it happen?
3. We had not much to worry about.
Sure, we were afraid to fail our exams. Sure, we dreaded going to the dentist. Sure, we were devastated when we watched Nello and Patrasche freeze to death. But that’s nothing compared to the things that had resided unwelcomely in our heads every day. Career, money, relationships, money, family, survival, money. And then we worry about the weather, the traffic, the daily chores, the politics of everything, all piled up one on top of another.
Try as we may, we just can’t help but worry. We worry about so many things because we care about so many things. Sometimes there are mountains of them, and we feel like hitting the next person who is going to tell us to not worry. How can I not worry, you kidding me? There is so much to worry about! We may extinguish these thoughts or bury them with a handful of positivity but they have always played at the back of our minds like an awful song we last heard but couldn’t shake off.
4. We had no responsibilities.
We worry because now we have responsibilities. Lots of them. A kid’s responsibilities can be succinctly put in six words — Do your homework; clean your room. Yet, we had the nerve to complain. Oh how we complained!
Responsibilities are what make adulthood what it is — a big lump of pain and misery that will crush you dead if you just stand there and do nothing. Responsibilities multiply as you add a year to your age. By the time we hit 30, we will be juggling so many of them. Responsibility means doing things right. Responsibility means something or someone depends on you and how well you do it. Responsibility means adulthood. And we can’t avoid it, much less escape it.
5. We always had an excuse.
Our youth was a free pass. Ah let it go, he’s just a kid! You heard that phrase often when you were a kid? That’s what adults would say whenever we got into trouble. That’s the gift of childhood: we were always innocent. Break a glass, shout at a friend, cover the walls with all the colors of crayola. We always got away with every mishap and mischief because, well, we were kids.
Now that we’re adults, every word has weight, every joke is half-meant, and every action has a consequence.
6. We found happiness in the simplest things.
Everything was welcome. The sun was a friend; it used to smile, not burn. The rain was a playmate; we used to dance in it, not loathe it. A piece of paper was a plane waiting to be flown. The clouds were magical. The rainbow was a miracle. Do you remember the moment you learned that caterpillars become butterflies? How about the moment you realized you could make a shadow of an eagle when you join your hands together? When was the last time you looked at the stars and just watched them twinkle?
It is an ability we have forgotten, a skill we have lost because we were distracted by bigger, more important things. Suddenly, all these were trivial and insignificant. We just have better things to do than stop and smell the roses, because, hey, we don’t see that many roses these days anyway.
When we were kids, we couldn’t wait to grow up. And look at us now — here we are — grown up and all. When the fuck did that happen?
Adulthood is nasty. It’s difficult and stressful and crazy. When we were kids, when we were being scolded for a mistake, we envied our older brothers and sisters and friends. They could do whatever the hell they wanted. That’s the thing about life, though. We always want what we don’t have and neglect what we do.
Being in the twenties comes with all kinds of challenges and responsibilities but it’s not like that’s all there is to it. It has some perks, too. Freedom, for starters, and more freedom. We have the freedom to decide what to do, where to go. This is our chance to write our own fates, and choose the life we want for ourselves. Of course, it all depends on how well we can handle the responsibilities and how brilliantly we overcome the challenges.
Maybe the best way to do it is to revive the child within ourselves and brave life the way a kid would. Worry less, find happiness in littlest things, and — most importantly — take your time. After all, 30 years from now, when we’re all old and grey, we want our future selves to look back at this period, flash a meaningful smile, and remember that we never stopped moving forward and how we enjoyed every minute of it.