February 10, 2012

defining ourselves

It’s no secret to anyone that I’m a bit—well, childish, not to be mistaken with nerdiness. And I don’t mean that in a bad way. I’m just not very grownupy. Yes, it’s a word. I just made it up. Nearly every shirt that I own is a print tee, hosting several nerdy references such as Harry Potter, My Neighbor Totoro, Pokémon, Star Wars, and various classic video games. I hang out in pajamas all day. I wear pink converses, bows in my hair, and printed socks. Most of my favorite books are intended for middle graders, others for young adults—the Harry Potter series, Percy Jackson series, everything by Diana Wynne Jones, the How to Train Your Dragon books, and anything that even remotely resembles a fairy tale. Most of my favorite films are intended for children under the age of twelve—Ponyo, Castle in the Sky, My Neighbor Totoro, Tangled, Howl’s Moving Castle, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas… and so on so forth. I’m more comfortable in a room of kids than a room of adults. I still draw on myself when I’m bored. I make up random songs about random things. I laugh at fart jokes. One of my favorite lunches to make is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich cut into squares. I still think of things I want to do “when I grow up”.

Clearly, I am not very grownupy.

my inner child
Yet, honestly, I don’t see the problem. Yes, I am twenty-three years old, but what does that mean, really? In the eyes of society, I am a grown up, but I don’t see myself that way. On the inside, in that weird little thing called a brain, in my soul, my true self, or whatever, I am approximately nine years old. I dream like a child, thinking of impossible things, asking questions about the world, and constantly pondering the “what ifs”. Yet, while I have this childish mentality, I still have the experience of my twenty-three years. I have regrets. I have a past. I have strong emotional connections, meaningful relationships, and an ever-evolving sense of self. The combination of these two sides of my personality are what, I think, make me such a great writer, and such an interesting person. I can question why the sky is blue, and five minutes later, I can philosophize about religion and spirituality. I constantly experience the world with the eyes of a child—everything is new and unknown. Yet, I can examine what I see with the mind of an adult.

My husband is, in almost every way, the opposite of me. Our one true connection is our nerdiness. But he’s realistic. He doesn’t dream impossible things. When I tell him I want to go on an adventure, he’s the one that reminds me that we live in Arkansas, not Narnia. That’s not to say he doesn’t have his childish moments, but more often than not, he grounds me in reality. If it weren’t for him, I would be floating along somewhere, lost in my own head. He keeps me sane. Most of my friends are more grownupy than I am. I’m the weird one of the bunch, the one who has yet to see the world for what it really is—mean and unforgiving. I’m an optimist. I daydream. I like to believe that magic exists and that I really can do anything. And if being a grownup means I have to become a realistic pessimist, to be honest, I don’t want to be a grownup. I want to stay a kid forever, if only in my heart. Yes, I know that someday I’ll have to own up to my age. I’ll have to become more realistic in my plans for the future. But I want to always have this childlike spirit, to always dream for impossible things. I hope I never get world-weary. I hope that I always look at the world in new ways. I hope that I continue to question the status quo.

And you better believe I’ll continue wearing my printed tees and converses. That’s just who I am, no matter how childish it makes me look.

Now, I want to ask you: who are you? How do you view yourself? Are you a dreamer, a realist, a philosopher?

If you could describe yourself in one word, what would it be?

For me, it would be eccentric. Or maybe quixotic, since I like the letter x.

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