It’s time to behave like the (inner) 10 year-old that you really are.

Growing up.
It’s hard to do. Some days I just don’t want to ‘adult’.
I often catch myself thinking the most peculiar things. For example, today as I picked up my recycling boxes from the kerb  (an entire day late, heh) I thought to myself ‘Look at me, I’m such an adult. Doing adult things and stuff!’ Or ‘How did ‘they’ let me get this far? Surely adults don’t behave like this?!’, ‘WHO LET ME GROW UP?!?’ or ‘Oh my gosh, I’m such an adult right now!’ Which, the fact that I had to think that indicates, perhaps that I often don’t feel like an adult. I sometimes think that I should be awarded my next birthday once I’ve reached certain maturity achievements and have been able to maintain a facade of adulthood for an entire year, not unlike a video game. You level up when you attain certain achievements, but until then, no gifts, no dress-up parties, no new shoes…! I mean, I do adult… I have a job. I can drive. My pets haven’t died through a lack of dehydration. But I still don’t feel 100% like an adult. And there’s nothing more that makes me feel less like an adult than experiencing joy.

Joy.

You know the word. You know what it means. Or at least you think you know. It’s often paired with the word happiness. A variant of happiness, it does however differ from that definition. So just to make sure we’re on the same page;


Joy
Noun
1. the
emotion of great delight or happiness caused by something exceptionally good or satisfying; keen pleasure; elation.
2. a source or cause of keen pleasure or delight; something or someone greatly valued or appreciated.
3. the expression or display of glad feeling. 

Got it? Good. I bet you can see where this is going.

There’s two key phrases/concepts I want to focus on in the above definition, those being “great delight” and “the expression or display of glad feeling”. You see, the thing about being an adult is that you often find yourself trying to be ‘mature’ or behaving in a manner you think to be acceptable, by society, at least. We experience things we greatly enjoy, something we get great delight from… and ‘we’ reserve our reactions even though our inner child may be jumping for joy. Now, I say ‘we’, because those of you who know me well will know that I experience joy all the time. Almost on a daily basis. I mean, I don’t keep a tally or anything, but I know it’s often. I know this because of my reactions or ‘expressions or display’ to things and in turn, people’s reactions to me.

You see, the thing about growing up, is that most of us just don’t want to do it. I was speaking to a homeless man in Wellington this past weekend and our conversation briefly touched on this topic.
“I’m 60, but I still feel like a 10 year old boy most of the time!” he said as we fed fish together at the Waterfront with bread he’d got from a soup kitchen.
Hear hear, friend, I still feel like a 10 year old boy a lot of the time too. (Minus the physiological differences that come with that, of course.) If you knew me at 10, you knew I did all my shopping at Hallenstein’s men clothing store, spent most of my time playing outside with boys in the mud and was generally a pretty rough definition of a young girl, much to my Mother’s upset. Then my boobs sprouted out the front of my chest and that changed things a bit. I think I was more interested in the boys than being one. But by-and-by, I have maintained my ability to react/express/display my joy to things I like with absolutely no reserve.

And that is because I don’t care what anyone thinks about my reactions. I have every right to behave in any way I see fit when I see or experience something I enjoy. For example…

Walking and talking around Blackford Pond in Edinburgh with a friend, I noticed a Swan and some Cygnets (baby Swans) in the pond. And well. I just ran off. Sprinted. Straight towards them. I think I even screamed “OH MY GOD, BABY CYGNETS!” [confirmed: I didn’t say a single thing.] and once arrived, I starting doing my happy dance/jump/foot shuffle thing… (which, if you didn’t understand the context you’d probably look at me and think, “Gosh, that woman looks like she needs the toilet, stat!”). The other adults around the pond were all wondering what was so exciting, looking on somewhat perplexed and my lovely friend Barnet was left in the dust laughing at the child/adult hybrid she’d bought to the pond that day.
I love a Swan. I love a Cygnet. I mean, I really love ’em. I’ll sit and watch them for hours and I’ll give off a full belly chuckle when the male Swan puff their wings up and speed towards other Swans in the water like a man on a mission. They are magical, amongst other things. What’s not to love!

Then there was the time someone bought me a Shark cookie cutter… Well…
I don’t even bake (yet, I will now!) and I did the whole dance/jump/foot shuffle thing in the street. The thing about the shuffle is that it’s teamed with silence, because my brain is too overloaded to string together a coherent sentence. I’m almost too excited to function. So the dance is what eventuates. That, or I talk through my thoughts very slowly, usually in a high-pitched voice: “This is so exciting.” “I love [insert noun here].” “This is so much [adjective].”

Then there’s every time I’ve ever seen a Highland Cow. (THEY’RE JUST. SO. CUTE.)
And every time I’ve pretended to be a tree/bush/shrub in a park/bush/woodland (yes, I can create my own joy by behaving like a child).
And the time I crocheted a hood and found it so hilarious that every time I put it on that I would fall into hysterics no matter where I was… home, pub, car.
Music is another good one. If I hear a song I enjoy, these hips/shoulders, well. They’re not stopping for anyone, anywhere. A friend got a full (albeit somewhat restricted due to the checkout space) dance and lip synch to ‘Grease is the Word’ whilst the checkout lady scanned items, slightly scared and confused. I even today danced in my seat at a cafe in between drinking my latte and eating my salad. My Mum; well, she didn’t bat an eyelid. She’s used to me doing me.

You see, I react the way I do because I enjoy doing it. I almost get more joy out of letting go of this adult facade and actually behaving the way I want to.
And you know what? The people I’m with… They enjoy watching me do it. It makes them laugh and smile. I may slightly embarrass them. But they’re not the one rolling around on the supermarket floor giggling and shouting out ridiculous things. That’s me. And I don’t care. It makes everyone around me feel good and those who don’t know me, don’t know or understand what’s going on or think that I may be slightly bonkers… Well. I won’t lie, I am bonkers. But I don’t care about what you think about me, and you need to lighten up.

So, how often do you experience joy? Or rather, how often do you allow yourself to experience joy? Do you let your inhibitions hold you back because you’re too worried what people will think? Perhaps you adult just far too much in your life. I hope not. Because it’s tiring. And everyone has an inner 10 year-old dying to get out, jump around, dance or giggle. If we all just let go of the adulting a little every now and then, maybe the world will become a slightly happier place. So join me. Get out and allow yourself to enjoy the little things exactly the way you want to. Like they say; “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.”

And I’ll tell you what. It feels damn good to let that 10 year-old out for a dance from time to time.

How do you see yourself?

I’ve been through a few big changes recently.
I returned to New Zealand after two years living in the U.K.
I worked in the same sector in a different country, teaching three different classes in one calendar year. I even started playing team sports again. (And then tore the ligament in my ankle, which put an end to that… whoops, I really should have known.) I travelled Europe on my own.
But it was my time living and working in Scotland that I met the most inspiring, kind-hearted and generous people I had ever come across. I forged incredible friendships. They were friends not by default, but by choice. We had things in common, a similar sense of humour, similar interests. I was incredibly content, happy and to be honest, I felt very lucky.

You see I’ve always known it, but it was only when I left the U.K I really realised it to be true.
And that is, to be the best version of yourself, you need to surround yourself with the right people. People who inspire you, people lift you up. People who care for you and others, people who are kind. People who are genuine and don’t always think of themselves. Just genuine, good people. And so you see, because I was lucky enough to experience this, I changed. I was growing as a person, becoming a responsible citizen and reliable friend. A better version of myself. And I was enjoying it. I worked hard at it.

Now I’m back in Aotearoa and I’ve found re-assimilation hard. I knew I would. But I didn’t quite expect it to be as difficult as I have found it; I mean, I lived here beforehand! It’s been three months and I’ve lost myself a little. Which isn’t usually a great thing. I feel like I have no direction. I have ‘nothing’ to do, even though I’m always doing something. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t really gone out to try and find new friends. I’ve been busy with work, animals and catching up with old friends. I mean… I already think the ladies at the supermarket checkout think there must be something wrong with me. When I go in on a Sunday afternoon, I dance and sing up the aisles and then seem overly chipper when they ask me how my day is going. Sorry ladies, it’s just that I haven’t had any human contact in over 32 hours and I’m starting to go ever so slightly insane. So half the town probably thinks I’m nuts. So, anyway, I’m at a crossroad. I can continue to think that I’m not happy, or I can actually stop being a wet rag and actually get back to being happy. I need to get back to feeling like my positive self again.

So I posed myself the question:

What are my good qualities?

It’s a tough question. We, as woman, are often hard on ourselves. Sometimes a little too hard. Men – maybe you are as well? I wouldn’t know, I’m not one of you. But as woman, we know every single fault we have. ‘We’re not good at’ this, and ‘we need to work on’ that…
But do we know what we are good at? What do we perceive as our strengths? What are we good at? Because it’s the sum of the parts that make a whole. And if I know anything about myself, it’s that I am a positive person. So feeling lost and directionless is kind-of new to me. So to that end, here is my list. Here’s what I think I am/good at;

  • I am positive (scarily so)
  • I am caring
  • I am loving
  • I am resilient
  • I am patient (most of the time)
  • I am calm (most of the time)
  • I am good-humored (that’s not to say it’s a good humour… just that I have one)
  • I am supportive
  • I am a good friend (because of many of these other attributes)
  • I am super cuddly
  • I am honest
  • I am committed
  • I am fiercely loyal
  • I am (somewhat) creative
  • I don’t take things too seriously
  • I’ve got a pretty good bum
    and the one we all like to think we are;
  • I am fun (or at least, I like to have a good time)

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure there are other things that I am good at. But many of these attributes are umbrella-like in their nature. They can cover many aspects of life; they are not restrictive in any way. Except when it comes to the Carterton round-about. Oddly enough, that’s where my patience runs thin.
So with these qualities in mind, I also wondered…
How would my friends and family describe me?
Would they think the same as me? Do they see me the way I see myself?
So I asked them. In one sentence, how would you describe me? Well. Ask, and you shall receive…

  • “Radge wee Kiwi” (Clearly not a Kiwi who wrote that one)
  • “Quirky, fun, loving and caring friend”
  • “Positive and quirky and a personality that’s wasted in a small town” (You’re telling me!)
  •  “Sexual that predators” (it’s a short, uninteresting story that relates back to a stream of consciousness I had during a Year 10 Social Studies lesson… Basically, I’m silly)
  • “A loveable and loopy, constant giggle companion who can always see and inspire the positive. Caring and creative and a truly wonderful friend.” (That’s two sentences, however, I’ll allow it.)
  • “An adventurous ball of energy, lovely and hilarious…”
  • “Wonderfully talented and enthusiastic teaching friend who always lives close and yet too far away.” (Dammit, so correct!)
  • “A fun loving, confident cousin who is the life of the party.”
  • “A ridiculous, bubble fanatic, cat lady with a great arse who makes me feel loved as though I were a a fresh bag of mini doughnuts.”
  • “You are sheer joy and when something makes you happy you treasure it like a kid on Christmas morning.” (Incredibly true, you should have seen me when someone bought me a shark cookie cutter…)

Well.
I’m not sure what I learned more from this list… That my friends think I’m a little bit loopy, or if they’re almost as loopy as me.
I think, as it turns out, my friends know me well. Many of the things they wrote I already knew about myself… but they see it in me too, which is great. It’s a confirmation. That makes those attributes my strengths.
What I love, is that these people value me and my friendship enough to answer my question. Most of you may think I’m a bit bonkers, but you (clearly) appreciate that in me. I mean… who else is going to stop a political debate between friends by taking their clothes off? I need to have some purpose!
So to those of you who wrote in, thank you. You are brilliant, and I love you. Because those are two of my attributes; loving and honest.

So with that in mind, I am going to move forward. It’s time to get back to being positive, time to get back to making and thinking the best of of every situation. And it starts now.

Except the vacuuming. I’m not sure I’ll ever feel good about having to do the vacuuming.