I was looking out the window while on the treadmill at the gym. I had tired of the usual morning shows on the TV and was enjoying my music. I noticed that a car had pulled up with a mother and her young toddler son .The mother went over to the other side of the car to get her infant child out of the car seat, and Adam immediately found something to keep himself busy.
As he stared at his reflection in the car window, he flailed his arms and began to make funny faces. He contorted his body and eventually went into a full-fledged dance. Disregarding anyone else, he passionately danced, gyrated and stared at the effect in the car window. The mother got all the way to the door to the gym before she realized she didn’t even have her son in tow. She yelled to him and he scampered over to catch up.
I watched with amusement as this whole scenario played out. This little boy was totally uninhibited and in the moment. He gave no thought as to how his wacky behavior appeared to others. He was absorbed in his own enjoyment and did exactly what felt right at that minute. The reality is that Adam doesn’t have many years left before he learns that his behavior in the gym parking lot and many other places is unacceptable in society. I bet that by the time he reaches Junior High, Adam will take the utmost care to say and do the right things to get along, be accepted and fit into the world.
If only we could all live our lives with such abandon and joy! The truth is that as we grow up, we learn what’s appropriate behavior and what is not. We internalize what is expected of us, and the roles that we’re suppose to play in our families, school setting, workplace and the world. To find success in life, there are certain standards of behavior you have to meet, and most of us can tackle this requirement with no problem. In fact, turning the off switch on that mode of thinking can eventually become an issue in your life.
I coach women that struggle with understanding who they are beyond their roles and expectations in life. Many have succeeded in numerous arenas, wearing several different hats, but at some point in their life, they realize that they’ve become disconnected with who they are at the core of their being. It’s possible they’ve spent many years denying feelings and desires in order to accomplish their goals and meet their expectations. Like an athlete, they kept motoring forward toward the finish line. However, there’s a price to pay for following that path in life. Eventually, you can lose touch with YOU and find it difficult to ascertain who you are and what you truly want and need— separate from your many roles and expectations.
The day I saw Adam dancing in the parking lot, he was just being Adam. He knew what he wanted and he didn’t really care what anyone else thought. He wasn’t aware or bound by any expectations— yet. It’s not realistic to think that as an adult you can live like Adam. However, make it a point to incorporate just a little bit of “Adam” into your life every now and then.