Over the past few years I’ve held some “real jobs.” After more than 25 years since my first freelance paycheck, I’ve experienced gigs that kept me working for extended periods of time. These recent experiences were jobs where I had different responsibilities from that of an artist. Rather than the bringing of imagination to life, I found myself responsible for the consistency of systems and structures, working with clients and their expectations, and the delivery of a product.
I have the utmost respect for those who are wired for this kind of work. As mentioned, I’ve learned a lot about myself in the work, and wanted to share something specific that might resonate: I’m a five year old.
The 5 year-old me, which thankfully remains quite healthy (and outspoken, to the surprise of some of my friends), hates “work.” They hate the imposition of the clock, and the pressure from others to “achieve.” They haven’t figured out that they are good at what they do, and so the pressure seems overwhelming. They hate being cornered, punished, and being told that they “can’t” regardless of the reason. It’s an offense to their being.
They love playing. Not the competitive kind, but the creative kind. They don’t want winners and losers at the end of the game. They want an amazing story, or a thing that was built. They will play until they are completely spent. The joy of play comes from the love of life that they’ve experienced. They have witnessed what it means to be given space, and so are happy to share their playtime with others – but are sensitive to the way others play. They don’t like a takeover spirit.
They require the freedom to say, “I don’t want to do that,” regardless of what happens next. They will go and do the thing that needs doing even if they don’t want to, because it’s the right thing to do. They need to be heard and to process their emotions, cause they have a lot of them. They need to have their feelings acknowledged, as it’s such a big part of their being.
Most notably my 5 year-old loves people. They will light up when they see people that they know. They will wave at strangers. They will strike a smile knowing that happiness can be contagious. And they love to laugh.
It’s been an interesting journey to rediscover my 5 year-old while working in jobs that haven’t been the kindest to my childlike nature. I’m thankful to have been reminded of my 5 year-old in more recent days, and hope to see more of them in the future.
How’s your kid today?