Cherish the Past

February 7, 2008
By Sophie Wilson, Glasgow, ZZ

As a child I saw the world in a very different light. Everything was fresh and beautiful to my uneducated eyes. This was a world where anything was possible and attainable for those that worked hard enough. My world was very simplistic in essence; either you were good or bad, there was no compromise. A combination of age and experience, mingled with a little maturity has altered my very blinkered life forever.

At the age of ten I discovered my first true passion, public speaking. I had grown up in a relatively academic and intelligent family. We all read a lot and held reading in a high regard. I was never made to feel ignorant or unworthy by them but by myself. I have always had a tendency to be rather hard on myself (or so my parents tell me!). So never having been very good at school was for me a very big deal. Achieving at school academically was my whole life. This overview is to explain why public speaking meant quite so much to me at this point.

It had never occurred to me to care what other people’s reactions to me would be (the bliss of being a child!). Being the best was all that mattered to me. Growing up changes that somewhat. Part of me wishes that I could be as carefree still and just do whatever I want without even thinking about other people’s opinions at all. But is it really better to live life in ignorant bliss?

I loved the way public speaking made me feel. It was my way of being in charge of something. I had never felt so powerful and important before. When I delivered a speech I felt special. I had always wanted to be the best at something and now I was (or so the trophies told me). It wasn’t cool but I didn’t care because where I stood on the social ladder wasn’t important to me. If I am very honest I cannot say that I was altogether aware of the existence of such a thing let alone where I stood on it!

When I reflect upon my childhood I see just how much things have changed. That is inevitable and obvious I suppose but it is still a little sad. Life is just one big adventure with the odd sad occurrence which feels like the end of the world at the time but by the next day is but a distant and generally hazy memory that is put down in the library of mounting life experience. Things are so much more complicated now, with my mind being determined to over complicate every small and insignificant detail. This leads to a tendency to lose sight of what really matters; the simple things that add up to a satisfied and altogether self-actualised individual. This could of course be just a flaw in my character but it does illustrate a vast difference in the workings of the adult mind in comparison to that of a child’s. I believe that it would do us all a bit of good to step back and simplify things like a child.

I remember being told when I was younger that childhood is such a fleeting moment in life that it should be enjoyed while it can because there is plenty of time to be an adult soon enough. I would always groan at this and roll my eyes, but now I realise how true it is. Childhood is a time that should be treasured because it is over so quickly and then is never going to come back. It’s really quite depressing to think that all we can do from this point is get older and older and increasingly closer to the grave.

It is the mounting pressure that society presses upon the young to grow up quickly that creates so many unnecessary problems. The social pressure on girls and boys is immense as a teenager, and essentially does mould you into what you are going to become. For that is what the teenage years are about, self discovery (as cheesy as it sounds it is true). Yet we are being guided by an invisible hand (consciously or otherwise) to go a certain way. Girls are expected to be wearing make-up and have an intense interest in boys at a very young age. While boys are meant to be tough and never show emotion. Change is good but not at such an accelerated, unnatural rate.

When adolescence does kick in it suddenly becomes apparent that other people’s opinions and perception of us does matter. My public speaking became my dirty little secret in a sense. I was never bullied but that horrible pressure to conform to the ideals of the supposed majority did hover close above my head. This invisible hold upon my soul was suffocating and created a person that I couldn’t recognise or keep up with for long.

The conclusion of such self consciousness was to prevent my true being a chance to shine through. By letting go of the shackles and binds that had held me I was at the beginning of true self discovery and enlightenment.

It strikes me that there are elements of being a child that should be kept hold of. The belief of there being good in everyone and the pleasure from the simple things in life (or maybe I have watched Amelie one too many times!). If we could incorporate childhood with being an adult I think that the world would be at least a much more colourful place in every respect.

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