Oct 12, 2023
Photo Credit: Brooke Hampton
"'Grow up,' we say. 'Stop crying,' we plead. 'Be quiet,' we scream. 'Do as you're told,' we demand. And then we wonder why there are so many adults who can't find the courage to speak, or feel, or create. Maybe there are so many wild souls in cages because we put them there.” ~Brooke Hampton
When I was younger, many adults seemed impatient with children for simply acting their age. They believed that children should be seen and not heard, suppressing their natural exuberance and emotions. The prevailing expectation was for kids to grow up quickly, to behave like miniature adults. This attitude often led to attempts to stifle the wild and curious spirit of children through fear, punishment, and constant warnings, effectively limiting their ability to explore and take risks in the world around them.
I can vividly remember how stories in the media and books were inundated with cautionary tales of stubborn children who met tragic fates or lost something precious to them due to their curiosity. These stories permeated our young minds, instilling a fear that ventured beyond our comfort zones could lead to our downfall. As a result, children became anxious and apprehensive about following their instincts and natural curiosity. The looming prospect of failure cast a long shadow, causing many to repress their wild, creative selves, ultimately reducing them to emotionless automatons merely surviving from one paycheck to the next, living in a constant state of caution and trepidation.
As kids, we were programmed to unquestioningly follow instructions, and any hint of rebellion or disobedience was met with disapproval, often seen as character flaws to be corrected through punishment and suppression. These early lessons in conformity extended into our adult lives, where we subconsciously adhered to the status quo, which can often be oppressive and discriminatory. As we transitioned into adulthood, we became hesitant to voice our opinions and advocate for ourselves, as the courage to do so had been systematically extinguished during our formative years.
Yet, there’s another aspect to this narrative, one rooted in our emotional world. When we cry as kids, it often led to more than just comforting or understanding. We would be beaten or scolded for daring to express our emotions. As adults, we find it exceptionally challenging to express our emotions openly. The memories of being reprimanded for shedding tears or showing vulnerability have left a deep mark on our emotional landscape.
Even when we do summon the courage to express our emotions, such as crying, we're often met with shame and dismissal. We're labeled as attention seekers, and our feelings are trivialized. Instead of receiving a compassionate ear and empathetic understanding, people rush to offer solutions and fixes, neglecting the crucial act of simply listening to our pain.
This pattern of suppressing emotional expression and trivializing our feelings to mere inconveniences perpetuates a cycle of emotional suppression and alienation. We need to break free from these constraints, both as individuals and as a society. Embracing and honoring our emotions is a critical aspect of reclaiming our wild and creative sides, enabling us to live authentic, fulfilling lives. It's time to create a culture that values emotional expression and validates our feelings rather than shaming or dismissing them. In doing so, we can foster a more compassionate and emotionally connected world.
Our society is steeped in regressive ideals, encompassing patriarchy, misogyny, sexism, capitalism, classism, ableism, and more, and we were conditioned to accept these norms without question or protest. Anyone daring to deviate from these established patterns of thought faced backlash and exclusion. To truly stand alone and embrace our wild, creative sides, we must be willing to rebel, to speak up and show up, even when we feel isolated. It's imperative to seek out like-minded communities on this solitary path towards self-actualization. In coming together, we can provide mutual support, empowering one another to challenge the oppressive norms and strive for a more inclusive and liberated society. It's time to challenge these narratives and nurture the wild and curious spirit of the young, enabling them to navigate life's challenges with confidence and resilience.