Growing up, I dreamed of being a journalist by day and musician by night. I later wanted to be a veterinarian, a drama teacher, an actress, and even open my own bed and breakfast for foreign travelers. At age nine, convinced I was going to be a detective, I made business cards out of old shoeboxes and stuck them in my neighbors’ mailboxes in hope of getting a good mystery to solve. Needless to say I did not end up working for the FBI, but my curiosity as a child was unmistakable, like a hummingbird flitting from one flower to the next.
If you pause to reflect on your childhood, you will probably find that this was the case for you, too. Maybe you loved to paint or bake cookies. Maybe you enjoyed solving puzzles, running barefoot on the beach, or writing fiction. When we are young, we naturally explore what feels exciting to us without fear or limitation. When we are young, there is no concern for what job title we will have, how much money we will make, or whether or not we will become successful. All that matters is purely existing, and being present from one moment to the next. In this marvelous state of play, we stay open and curious. This is where the magic unfolds.
I often wonder: when do we lose our sense of childlike curiosity? At what point do we shift from our innocent exploration to follow a structured, linear path? As we get older, it becomes natural for us to aim for meaning and purpose in our work. Yet in our quest for professional identity, we ironically tend to abandon the very things that make us who we are. At some point along the path, we leave our inner child behind, the one who believes she can do anything from becoming a crime-fighting detective to performing on a Broadway stage.
Whether you are a college student attempting to choose a major or in your 50s navigating a career change, it is never too late to start fresh and reconnect with your inner child. When you separate yourself from your resume, job titles, accolades, and all societal expectations, who are you as a human being? What sparks excitement for you? When you peel back each layer, you may find that your true essence is simply waiting to shine.
Maybe you are reminded that you love to draw or bake. Maybe you remember your thirst for travel, or your love of nature. Whatever it may be, it is never too late to reconnect with your sense of play and explore your true nature; the person who exists underneath the walls and labels we have adapted.
Connecting with your inner child can help spark a renewed sense of curiosity, exploration, and even freedom.
My wish for you is that you find little (or big!) ways to access your curious inner child every day. Journal for a few minutes. Commute a different way to work. Notice how the birds fly from tree to tree, building a nest from whatever they find in the woods. Sip coffee without scrolling through your phone, or listen to a piece of music you haven’t heard in a while. No matter how much is piled on your plate, I promise that your inner child will always be waiting for you. And when you take a moment to say hello to that person, life becomes far more beautiful and fun.