The honesty of a child can be the most refreshing glass of cold water ever to be thrown in one's face.
Have you ever witnessed, or been lucky enough to be part of, a conversation with a kid? When something confuses them, they ask why. When something intrigues them, they ask why. When something tickles them, well, they laugh. Their questions are posed in such a matter-of-fact way that it figuratively bludgeons the grown-up into submission. We cannot hide from such direct questioning and, often, we find it confronting.
As adults, we have become accustomed to speaking in slurred whispers, hiding behind passive-aggressive remarks and baiting others with vague Facebook status updates. Why do we shy away from being honest?
I have spent almost all of my life hiding from people and, truly, myself. Through childhood experiences and adult relationships, I was taught that it is safer to say "I'm fine" and smile whenever asked how I was. Even when it was so blatantly obvious that I was tearing my hair out, slashing my wrists and setting myself on fire. My defence mechanism was to close the door on the mess that was how I truly felt. Until it got to the point that the door, no longer being able to withstand the force that grew behind it, burst open and everything came flooding out in a tidal wave of raw emotion.
It took a change (of epic feckin' proportions, I'll tell ya!) that left me with no choice but to get to know the person I had become. What are my likes? My dislikes? Why do I dislike these things? Why do I like others? These seem like pretty lame-ass questions, but have you ever asked yourself why you do or do not like something... or someone?... or yourself?
When I turned 30, two years ago, I made the choice to get to know me. This may sound easy enough, but how many of us can legitimately say that we truly know ourselves? Why we react to certain situations the way we do, why we are drawn to particular people and, perhaps, why we keep making the same "mistakes." These are all topics that are constantly up for discussion in my head (that doesn't sound crazy at all, Nicky.)
About a year ago, I wrote a post on anxiety. In it, I spoke of a situation where I was confronted by the thought of something being "all my fault." I didn't mention it at the time, but the thought was in regards to the kind of man I was attracting into my life and, to be true, it was all my fault. My intentions were unclear. I didn't know what I wanted. If I am not clear and honest with myself, how is the Universe going to show me anything but that which I have already seen?
Quick answer: it isn't.
I am now of the firm belief that this life is mine. I own it. This includes all the decisions I make. I don't fear making mistakes anymore. Life is a Choose Your Own Adventure book. Each page that turns brings with it a choice, a lesson. It grants us the opportunity to journey forward into the exciting unknown, or to get bogged in a swamp with only our regrets to keep us company until we die. Morbid, much. But really, when we don't face our truth, this is a metaphor for the consequences.
I approach life with a child-like curiosity because... why the hell not? I can learn so much about myself through other people and I am genuinely intrigued by them. I know I can be a bit spaztastic at the best of times, so my delivery can be a little excitable. I am quite a playful person by nature and I have noticed that, since I made the decision to get to know and be friends with me, I peak the interest in those around me.
Disappointingly, honesty seems to be pretty rare nowadays. The reactions of some of the people I meet concrete this idea for me. I get everything from "you're a good kid," to "are you always this happy?" and "you're such a flirt." This last one actually upsets me a little. It saddens me to realise that we live in a world where genuine kindness and fun (and eye-contact) are misconstrued as romantic advances. Maybe it is because so many people are about what they can take, as opposed to how they can serve. I assure you, not everyone is out to get a piece of you.
The point of life is to live and to love. Be present in this moment, right now. When it passes by, you can't get it back. So, how did you spend your time thus far? Are you having fun? The next moment to come is your chance to make a change, share some love, give someone a hug (I love hugs!) This is the time to get to know yourself and be ridiculously fearless in your honesty. Only you know what you seek and there is no shame in asking for it.
If only we would each remember who we were as children. At what point did we stop playing? At what point did we lose our curiosity? At what point did we start listening to our parents? Perhaps there was only so many times our child-selves could hear "You ask too many questions" before we started to believe it. Perhaps this is why so many people are afraid to ask for phone numbers or send Friend Requests to people we are attracted to. Attraction doesn't always have to be romantic. If I am curious about you, I am going to add you on Facebook and, damn it, I'm going to send you a message too! Fuck the rules of engagement! I'm not trying to get into your pants, I want to know what life is like for you. How do you spend your time? What brings you joy? What's your favourite food? How do you make a paper plane? Are you a scruncher or a folder?
I know people think I'm "funny" and "different" and "quirky" and, OH! "Extroverted" (fuck, I can't stand that word. It's right up there with "normal." But that is a topic for another day.) People may perceive me as childish or immature, but this is because they have traded the Art of Play for the Art of War. It is quicker for people to affix others with a tag and place them in a box, than it is to ask "Who are you?"
The moral of the story, kids, is to be curious. Take time to play. And, bloody hell, start living for now, not just for the weekend.