I was recently babysitting a 7 year-old girl and her two older brothers. While her brothers played video games (which in my tomboy heart I secretly wanted to play instead), we played everything from doll house, hide-and-seek to beauty salon.
I fondly remember all throughout my childhood the majority of playing I did by myself and with my friends was playing make-believe. We would play house, doctor’s office and my personal favorite: school. The world of make-believe as a kid is a magical place with no ceilings or walls to stop you. You can literally be whatever you want to be with no limits to your imagination.
Now my make-believe skills were a touch rusty as Danielle and I played; I found myself having a hard time seeing all the things that she was seeing. She would be adding to the story and I was left fumbling with my words just trying to keep up with her. “When did this happen…?” I wondered. I used to be able to play make-believe with the best of ‘em. No storyline was too unbelievable for me. Yet here I was wondering why the dragon was in the garage or why the fairies would have their own pets.
I’d like to call this my Peter Pan moment. Without even noticing it, I had grown up, never to return to Neverland. My imagination is a more cynical, rational, shriveled up version of what it once was. In Polar Express, on Christmas morning when the parents jingle the bell Santa gave the little boy and can’t hear a sound at all… that is me! When did I stop believing in “childish things"?
Want to know a moment that all of us have experienced where we can flex our make-believe skills?
“Where do you see yourself in 5 - 10 years?” (a question I think all of us have been asked at least 3 times this last year)
WHO HONESTLY KNOWS THE ANSWER TO THAT QUESTION?
Instead of saying "I don’t know" and drowning in the endless possibilities of where you could end up - married or divorced? Two kids with a third on the way or no children at all? In a stable career you love or unemployed? Living in a condo in Seattle or in a 2-story house in Minnesota? - why not take the time to really sit down, dig deep and try to make-believe where you want to be? You don’t have to create a timeline and blueprint but simply brainstorm what you want your life to look like when you are 27 or 28.
Dream about where you see yourself in every way possible, including the places you do not see yourself being and things you do not see yourself doing. Granted, you will probably change your mind one, two or ten times before your 28th birthday, but that’s okay! The idea is to have a foundation for your future.
I recently watched an incredibly powerful TED Talk from Meg Jay; it is seriously worth the 15 minutes of your time, I promise. In it, Meg speaks to the fact that so many twenty-somethings treat their 20s as a throwaway decade where they are simply transitioning from young adults to full-blown adulthood. “Real life will start in my 30s, so it’s okay if I treat my 20s as a trial run for my life,” so many of us reason. But in a brilliant way Meg tells us that “claiming your 20s is one of the simplest, yet most transformative, things you can do for work, for love, for your happiness, maybe even for the world.”
It’s time for us to claim our 20s! Why throw away some of the most important and fun years of our lives to find ourselves at 30 not doing any of the things we really want to do? It’s time right now to make-believe where we see ourselves in 5 or 10 years. The sky is seriously the limit.
I was cleaning out my room the other day and came across my dream book from when I was about 12. There was a section where I could write down where I saw myself at 30. Granted, to a 12 year-old 30 seems like FOREVER away. But as a 22 year-old about to turn 23, 30 now seems a little too close for comfort.
So you must be dying to know… where did 12 year old Alyssa see herself in 18 years? “Married with 3 - 4 kids, a famous vet and author known for her work, living in both the country and city.” I suppose anything is possible in make-believe so I won’t count that option out.
(Photo by Julie Bloom.)