Article by Phoenix writer Ally Goldsmith ’20:
As I get dressed every morning, I proceed to my closet to be met with a folded pile of pajama pants with patterns that range from polar bears wearing tiaras to whales wearing Santa hats. I migrate to my dresser and peek into the drawer where I store my festive headbands for each holiday of the year. Finally, I travel to my colorful sock drawer and gaze upon the multitude of selections. I have a different pair of socks for each Disney princess, a SpongeBob SquarePants pair, a sparkly green pair with avocados, and at least five pairs with hearts on them.
I assume the majority of people have a closet stocked with some plaid pajama pants and a sock drawer full of white socks. Why white socks?
I understand that wearing funky socks, writing with Disney princess pens, and using Toy Story Band-Aids is silly, maybe even childlike, but who said that being an adult (which technically I can say because I am eighteen), means the childlike spirit must be put away as the white socks are put on?
The monotony of a life in the rat race requires an uplifting spirit to encourage progress and growth. I show my love for life through the simplest means by choosing to laugh at innocent things, to be inspired by animated movies, and to believe that, without question, nothing is impossible.
However, when I say that I believe in Santa Claus or that Frozen is not just a movie, I do not always get the warmest responses. Of course, I understand that Santa is, in fact, not real and Anna and Elsa are just fictional characters, but I do believe in the magic, warmth, and happiness that Santa Claus stands for. I do believe in the strength and empowerment that movies like Frozen instill in little girls with big dreams. My individuality is defined by this spirit and charism.
Society is conditioned to conform to adulthood and to leave this childlike spirit behind. I envision an adult in the corporate world wearing watermelon socks to the office. My instinct tells me that the expressive socks might not fit the business casual model the boss has in mind. While professionalism is, and always will be, highly substantial, a festive holiday tie matched with equally festive socks adds to the heart and soul of the institution which is arguably as substantial as professionality. Productivity of employees is directly related to their well-being and happiness (look it up), so why does society at large conform to “adulthood” and leave its childhood behind?
Nowhere in the definition of adulthood was the lack of belief in magical things, the lack of a vivacious spirit towards life, or the lack of a childlike nature mentioned. Adulthood is tethered with the responsibility of paying bills and mortgages, cooking dinner every night, buying the food to cook the dinner with, going to work, performing well at work in order to receive a raise, having a means of transportation to get to and from work every day, etc. The weight of the multitude of responsibilities that adults face on a daily basis seems to push away any glimpse of the childlike spirit that adults once knew.
After all, the only thing a child worries about is chasing after a butterfly in the backyard or playing with his or her favorite toy. A child does not turn on the news and worry about all of the horrible things going on in the world. A child does not understand the stock market or the relevance of politics and current events.
The burden of adulthood advances the lack of a childlike spirit. This type of conformity is a way of dealing with vital yet overwhelming aspects of life. It is a type of defense mechanism. It is easier to be grouchy than it is to consciously choose to be happy everyday and approach life as a challenge to bring light to the world.
Adults so stereotypically and commonly say, “I wish I was young again.” Morrie Schwartz said, “You never hear people say, ‘I wish I were sixty-five.’ You know what that reflects? Unfulfilled lives.”
On a day when I have three tests, two quizzes, and what feels like a million homework assignments to complete after staying at school until 5:30, it is so easy to get overwhelmed and find myself in a stressed and negative mindset. However, I wake up and put my polar bear pajama pants on with a smile that stays on my face during each test, quiz, and homework. I derive meaning from the body of work I produce as a student, but that body of work would not be a possibility if I did not attack each and every assignment with a positive outlook that stems from the second I wake up every morning and put on a ridiculously childlike pair of pants over my uniform.
It is important to recognize that the difference between the childlike and the childish is immense. Being childlike does not mean to be immature. To be childlike is to see the beauty in everything as if seeing from a child’s eyes. To be childlike is to love everyone regardless of race or religion as if loving with a child’s heart. To be childlike is to speak with innocence and honesty as if speaking from a child’s mouth.
Life is too short to be small. I may have a five-foot stature, but my five hundred foot spirit is the only thing that is seen in a society full of people conforming to numerous social norms. Happiness is not contingent on age or other’s opinions.
But I wear Disney pants and Spongebob socks…so what do I know?