Don’t Grow Up

As you read this, are you wishing you’d have grown up quicker, gotten to the age you’re at now sooner? Or do you wish you’d been able to spend more time at a younger age?

So why do we tell kids to “Grow up”? Why are we in such a hurry to get kids to act like adults? You know, the adults that we often don’t want to be ourselves, the ones stressed out, overworked, lacking the creativity of children, fearing failure, and generally lacking the physical energy we once had?

Ask a group of adults to draw something and most will say, “I can’t draw!”; ask a group of 5-year-olds, and they’ll jump into it. No fear of failure, no lack of creativity. Take kids to a park and they almost immediately run, jump and climb; take adults to a park and the first thing they do is look for a bench to sit on. Have you noticed bookstores are bursting at the seams with self-help books for adults, but you never see one aimed at kids.

As adults we often think that we can no longer do or learn something completely new, that the time to do that has long gone. But if you read some of the latest research about neuroplasticity – the ability of our brains to adapt and form new neuro-pathways – it’s easy to see that we can continue to grow, learn, adapt, change and improve until the day we die. Sometimes it’s a matter of having the right approach or strategy for learning, but there’s no doubt that you have all the ability you’ve ever had to take on something new.

Everyone should read the book, The Brain That Changes Itself, by Norman Doidge. It encapsulates much of the research about neuroplasticity and can’t help but make you feel hopeful, no matter what your age and condition.

The next time you have the urge to tell a kid to grow up and be more mature, think again. Instead, tell yourself to grow down. Take chances. Make mistakes – in fact, embrace them as learning-takes. Do what you don’t think you’re good at. Know that your brain is constantly adapting, evolving and improving, so take advantage of that.

Go to a park and run just for the pure joy of it, if only for a few minutes. Just appreciate the fact you can do it. Learn to do something that you think you’re no good at – drawing, playing a musical instrument, playing a sport, cooking – just to prove that your brain can still learn (and it can!) and for the thrill of doing something you’re uncomfortable with. Look for opportunities to look fear of failure in the eye and say, “Screw you – I’m doing this despite what you think!” Make time to just play, doing whatever you want to do, not worrying about what others think.

Be a kid. Grow down.


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