Lessons from the Playground

We're all stories in the end, just make it a good one, eh?

They say high school is supposed to prepare you for college and that college should prepare you for life. However, I’ve found that the lessons that I learned at recess in elementary school were much more accurate than what they feed us now.

Let me explain.

  1. You learn of cliques… yes.. there are cliques even at the lovely (and completely unawkward) age of 7. Though you don’t necessarily pay attention to them, you know that there are certain people that you want to spend time with, and then there are the people who throw sticks in your general direction when the teacher isn’t looking. Either way.. you’re learning to base your socializing off of those you treat you better than that… unless they’re throwing sticks with you, then.. well.. it’s a very fine line.
  2. You learn the evils of the gossip mill. There must have been a million grapevines on my playground because if someone whispered everyone heard it; it’s also important to note that this is where you learn how things can get misconstrued. There was once in elementary school when I slugged a boy in the arm (he probably deserved it), and by the time it had made its way to the teacher, there were much more serious implications. Luckily, for me, the boy told the truth about where I had hit him.. for a second there it had turned into an awful game of telephone.
  3. You learn about the unfairness in life. One word. Kickball. You know what I’m talking about. Many of us have stood in that line waiting to hear the captains call our name out, but one by one, the group dwindles. People that didn’t necessarily play as well as you were chosen first because they were friends, and then, it got down to you and that other kid, ya know, the one that didn’t really want to play but they conned him/her into it so there would be an even number. The only thing going on in your head is, “Please don’t pick me last. Please don’t pick me last.”
  • There is a caveat to this one… I’ve found that if you’re actually really good at said sport (or whatever), kids on the playground tend to overlook the fact that you’re female faster than adults do. You peg one kid directly in the head.. and you’re golden. Don’t try that as an adult.. that’s how people get sued.
  1. You learn that having a crush on someone is terrifying. Sure, once you’re an adult it’s scary… you’re wondering, “Is this the one? Will I screw this up? Are they going to dump me? Do they actually like me?” All in one thought process.. (overthinking FTW). However, when you’re young, it’s much worse. Possibly the only thing we have to base our “love life” on are Disney movies. By sending over the “Do you like me? Check: Yes or No” letter, you could be sealing your fate for happily ever after. Girls.. don’t act like you didn’t already start signing his last name in your binder. Playing MASH? You cheated so his name was circled. People worry about being heartbroken now, at least now you know it’ll get better. You’ve had the experience to be able to know that even if you take the risk, it won’t destroy you. But, then again, maybe it was better then.. “loving” without fear. Plus, holding hands with somebody is just so nice. 🙂 Go on now.. go hold hands.
  2. You learn that good friends are a MUST. When I was in 5th grade, I had short hair.. REALLY short hair. I didn’t care.. long hair took effort, and I really was more concerned with enjoying sports than fixing my hair. However, because of this, some of my classmates decided that it would be funny to call me “It.” They said that there was no way to tell if I was male or female, so it fit me better. My best friend at the time and I were in line to get some ice cream, and one of the boys in our class was being especially cruel that day and made some comment about me looking like a boy. My friend.. being the amazing girl she was.. put her arm around me and said, “Well, if she was a boy, I’d choose to date her over you any day.” Right there, ladies and gentleman, is a true friend. It’s not about saving face or what you can do for them, it’s about love, compassion, and trust.
  3. You learn to pick yourself back up. Though maybe the drama you experience now is a bit more serious than it was then. Who cares? If there’s one lesson in life that I’ve always cherished, it’s the one that shows you that no matter how bad it gets, it can always get better. Not to make you start singing the Frozen soundtrack, but let it go. Don’t let anything hold you back from your dreams. Don’t let anyone hold you back from anything. Sure, we’re all going to have baggage… but it’s how you store it that matters. You can choose to lug it around with you, or you can choose to vacuum-seal that junk and put it away. It’s not about getting some place.. it’s about the journey. Don’t let your past hold you back from being happy. Find yourself. Find what makes you happy… and when you find that, never let it go.

So there ya go.. a few lessons from a 90s playground. Go out and live your life! Find your bliss! Kiss someone! Join a nudist colony! Whatever! Do what makes you happy! Because as much as you can want everyone around you to be happy, you’re spending the rest of your life with yourself. If there’s ever a moment where you feel like there is no bouncing back, don’t give up. Sometimes fear holds us back from happiness, sometimes it’s heartache, sometimes we’re just being stubborn/stupid, but don’t let yourself wake up one day and regret what could have been.

Just think:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” –Mark Twain

No Longer One-Size-Fits-All

Frozen What if I meet the one

“What if I meet THE one?”

The other day, I served a table that asked me how many children I have; I went about answering it the same way I normally do: “None at the moment.” That usually ends the conversation. However, this man decided that the idea of me wasting my life without children and a husband was ridiculous. He asked me why I didn’t have any. I politely told him that I was pursuing other things in my life currently, and I didn’t have the time or the opportunity to do so. From here, the conversation went further south. He told me that I’d ought to hurry up before it’s too late, and I pretended to find this funny and told him that I would do my best to change my priorities around to get married and start a family.

Though I’m sure many would be offended by this man (I admit that I was slightly put-off), this conversation did make me start thinking about how we look at the value of someone’s life. Here we are, the 21st century, and somehow, we’re still stuck on the idea that our happiness lies in finding our one true love, getting married, and having a baby. And, the people that choose a different life, a different path, are ostracized. Even if it isn’t said out loud, the questionable glances and judgment is there.

Why?

Think for a moment what this is teaching our children (well, not mine because, as mentioned, I have none). They are constantly bombarded by Disney movies telling them that their Prince Charming, their soul mate, is out there somewhere waiting for them, and when they find them, that’s when happily ever after begins. Of course.. that bubble is burst after the first few failed relationships… the guys turn out to be more like Hans from Frozen than Phillip from Sleeping Beauty.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not always the guys. Sometimes, as females, we get a little.. hmm.. ahead of ourselves. There are those moments that happen with a simple smile from are date.. and it turns into the distant sounds of wedding bells in our minds. I’ve done it, you’ve done it.. let’s be honest.. we’ve all.. jumped ahead. Pinterest proves this. How many of you have a wedding board and don’t even have a boyfriend?

Why do we do this to ourselves? Is it the constant bombardment of a timetable that society is telling us is a one size fits all?

Recently, I’ve been thinking more on this. Why am I in a hurry? Sure, I’m nearing 30, and my childbearing days are not as plenty as they used to be. How can that be an excuse? There’s adoption. I could love any child, regardless of it being biologically mine. Why can’t I simply stop and smell the roses? Appreciate what life has offered me?

I’m trying. I think we should all try. The timetable that starts the moment you have your first date.. throw it away. Maybe you’re ready to commit and they’re not at the same place yet. Ask yourself two questions: “Do you love them?” If the answer is yes, then ask, “Are you in love with them or do you just need love?”

Who are we to say that our timetable is more important than theirs? If you have needs that aren’t being met, then find someone else. But, just because society attempts to shove the one-size-fits-all logic upon us.. doesn’t mean we should do it to our significant others. Remember this: Different people need different amounts of time, and there are no guarantees.

Would it be nice to step into a relationship knowing that you were guaranteed a white dress and ring.. sure. I guess.

But what fun would that be?

Instead of worrying about the future.. about what you can get from them. Stop and enjoy it. Enjoy them. Who cares if the white dress never comes? You’re making memories.. these may be the best days you’ve ever had with someone, and that is what is important. Not the title. Not the dream. It’s the person standing there with you for as long as they do.

Sometimes things don’t work out, and that’s okay. Because that person has shown you something about yourself that maybe you didn’t know before. Don’t hate them for not following your timetable.. love them because they were apart of it at all.

Maybe marriage isn’t something in my future and maybe I’ll never have kids. That’s all okay because I will never be able to say that I haven’t loved… because though it’s terrifying to fall in love, our heart is a muscle and the best exercise that it has is falling in love. That’s why it hurts when things fall apart.. you’re not broken.. you’re just a little sore. So, go out there! Exercise those hearts! Let it soar as far as it can!