If you had told the 4 year old me that I would someday be travelling to East Africa, I would’ve likely looked at you with big brown eyes filled with wonder, fascination, and a hint of inquisitiveness as if to say: “What is this magical land of which you speak?”
Although I would’ve gladly stepped into my loose-fitted tan corduroy overalls and hurriedly packed a suitcase full of dolls, books, and Dunk-a-Roos (#alltheyum #noguilt), it’s very likely that the 4-year old me, albeit untainted by adulthood’s realism, would never have fully understood her destination or her purpose for travelling. Same goes for the 14 year old me, who wouldn’t even have had the time to listen to you, too preoccupied with bad hair days, finding the perfect songs to play in her discman, and generally being dramatic; “Like, OMG, for reeeaaal!” For real what? The teenage me really had no idea…
But for real, let’s get real now (oh wait…). We all carry our childhood on our shoulders, in our minds, and in our memories. Although 4-year old Janice now seems like a foreign and strange being (Who in their right mind crosses a street without looking to their left and right to retrieve a basketball?!), I now know that she’s there all around me with each passing day, to remind me the importance of living in the present and taking the time to play.
Although our conceptions of play are now different, I know that mini Janice is pleased as punch in regards to my plans for the next couple of years: travelling, teaching abroad, living in the moment, and taking the time to just BE. Sure, I could be getting on with my career, finding a nice guy, and marrying in a couple of years but if I did that, I’d be letting down my inner child. Looks like mom and dad are in for a sad surprise! #oops
At this point a quote by Henry David Thoreau comes to mind: “Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” It is with these words that I step forward and embrace the months and years to come, equipped with my knowledge and skills but also with my childhood spirit, the latter propelling me forward and ensuring that I forever appreciate the beauty of novelty.