Adulting, and not growing up boring

One of the hardest things about being an adult is growing up.

Even in the 1988 movie BIG starring Tom Hanks, Josh’s wish to Zoltar

I wish I were BIG.

Was soon regretted as reality sank in.

Yes, the freedom can seem great, but with freedom comes responsibility, and with responsibility comes the need to act your age, pay your bills and grow up.

Being an adult can be a real drag.

“I have a lot of growing up to do.

I realized that the other day in my fort.” Zach Galifiankakis

I am not saying that adulting (to carry out one or more of the duties and responsibilities expected of fully developed individuals) doesn’t come with some up sides. Like freedom from the rules of one’s parents or teachers.

But such rules are nothing compared with the laws of adulting, and there is less leniency upon turning the big 18. You do the crime, you do the time, or pay the fine. You take too many pens, or email inappropriate material at work and you are likely FIRED with a capital F.

People often work hard at work, to climb the career ladder, aspiring to be prosperous, often so they can have the financial freedom to be childish — the sports car they dreamed of, world travel or even an island. Yet, as reality sinks in that such prosperity is rare and requires risk and hard work, most just slot in to the hierarchy, play by the rules, and stop questioning the status quo.

Workplaces are increasingly less fun. Process obsession, legal and compliance, blurred work-life and increasing pressure to do bigger, faster, better, cheaper, MORE innovation, no rule breaking or risking your annual 360 review.

“I am not a robot.”

For many adults it is a time of independence. New car(s), relationships, marriage(s), mortgages, pet(s) and children (in no particular order). Oh the joy one’s children can bring! But, often it will feel that the joy you had inside in your youth, now comes from watching the joy of your children. Yet, even this can be like paying pokie machines. Lots of money goes in, and occasional payouts. Thank god for cigarettes, alcohol, sex and chocolate to help us escape, although gradually everything is getting put on the deadly and dangerous list.

Perhaps this is why comedy movies are second only to the adventure genres (according to Statista) in an attempt to laugh like a child and vicariously live a life of at least some adventure, even if with a strong safety net. And, why cycling is ever increasing, as the last bastion of our childhood that remains. At least parents can watch the joy of their children and reflect.

It is hard being an adult, but perhaps the challenge is less about growing up, and more about remaining childlike. Too not take adulting so seriously! Having a laugh, remaining inquisitive like we were as a child, and even with the complexity in needing to maintain commitment and responsibilities of an adult, to first and foremost retain the idealism you had as a child that things can be change for the better. Adults generally forget this, and their childlike mind is somewhat of another world, another person, another reality.

Steve Jobs likely balanced such childlike idealism with the responsibilities. And, it has been a common theme in the Real People Podcast interviews to date (yes, we have a podcast). One, who articulated it particularly well, and launching next week (so don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes) is Antarctica explorer extraordinaire Tim Jarvis AM. Tim is Global Ambassador WWF-Australia, Leader 25zero, polar explorer, speaker, author, film maker, environmental scientist and the man who recreated Sir Douglas Mawson’s expedition of the Antarctica and Sir Ernest Shackleton’s epic crossing of the Southern Ocean.

“I think I retained that sense of inquisitiveness into adulthood, and I’m just a big kid really at heart, and I retain a kind of idealism that things can be changed for the better as well, which is a childlike characteristic that I’ve continued into adulthood.” Tim Jarvis AM on Real People

Tim’s sentiment touched a nerve for me, as I am sure it will for others. As many people who do amazing things, people like Tim have children, mortgages, financial pressure and other responsibilities, but fundamentally they are focused on living a life worth living. Not, giving up on who they were as a child as an adult. In the interviews for Real People, I have gone back to our guest’s childhood, and quite clearly the child informs the adult.

A wise lady once said …

“I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier. Let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be.” (Thanks Whitney)

But, what do we teach the children to “let them lead the way?” And, even more importantly how do we ensure they do not get lost as most adults seem to do.

Pablo Picasso was once heard say …

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he (/she) grows up.”

Children don’t proclaim themselves as creative, having imagination. It is not forced, constrained or process driven, they just are. And, then when they become adults, or even older children, they can lose their idealism about the world and that things can be even better. Life can be all so serious it is import to keep laughing and remember the child.

Two of the guest so far on Real People stated priorities for young people, and likely the less young. To be proud of their uniqueness and embrace it.

“Be proud of your positive uniqueness, embrace it.” André Noël Chaker (Finland) on Real People

“Having a very clear understanding of yourself and where you want to be in your own life, and having the self determination and the resourcefulness to understand you can achieve those goals. And, get out there and do it!” Robert Tercek (US) on Real People

Shoshin is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning ‘beginner’s mind.’

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, in the expert’s mind there are few.”

The beginner’s mind or child mind refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.

As the child becomes an adult, tendency can be to lose this as reality takes over. We grow up, and lose that inquisitiveness, and idealism that things can be changed for the better.

Life can be serious, but please keep your inner child alive.

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