By Michael Luo
BY MICHAEL LUO
How your earliest days impact the rest of your days.
There is something inspiring and foolish in a child’s naïve determination. As children, we’ve all been there, longing to be someone we’re not. To compensate, we choose to imagine, to invent worlds stirred by the art around us. Children’s art, whether books, shows, or otherwise, may be targeted at children, but they are mostly created by adults. This relationship illustrates how childhood creativity shouldn’t end when your age hits double digits; ideas and beliefs from childhood continue to flourish and influence later life aspirations.
Take a moment to remember the time when your grade school teacher asked what you wanted to be when you grew up. Whatever your original choice, many of us have moved on. Some of us didn’t even pick possible professions to begin with. For instance, mine was Pokémon master.
Looking back, I realized my selection wasn’t so far from reality, and the same viewpoint could be applied to anyone. I stuck to a children’s cartoon because I wanted to be part of an adventure story. Nowadays, I travel and write. That was the impact a children’s animated show had on me. Taking elements of what you liked as a child can present a fresh perspective on what you like today and what you’d like to do. Consciously or unconsciously, artistic creations made specifically for children leave marks on our taste in life, from our sense of humor to our sense of comedy or favorite color or favorite fashion. In any case, children’s art is what led us to have childhood dreams that we later adapt to fit real-life opportunities.
That is not to say these childhood visions realize themselves. I once thought dreams came true because they always did on the Disney Channel. But sooner or later, we recognize that dreams are bound to somnolent nights lest we toil during the day. So, as many of us fight through the struggle of balancing academic ambitions with career goals, take time to meditate on what you really wanted when you were a simpler self. Have your decisions since fulfilled those ideals? Maybe you’ve changed and now everything is working out. Or maybe you’ve forgotten that those greener days of Saturday morning cartoons had something to say about the very tasks and dilemmas we busy ourselves with today. Instead of trapping yourself into worrying about what you can be, remind yourself that one time, you were excited just at the prospect of becoming anyone. Find the childhood art that inspired you to be so determined, and reclaim that marvel to succeed.
Having something inspiring and foolish from your childhood to motivate your later pursuits is just the right mixture of fantasy and incentive. Sure, it’s just for the sake of nostalgia and primarily satisfies your earlier self, but a child’s sense of wonder may be one of the most valuable resources humanity has to offer. It is these ambitions we once had as children that drive us to transform our imaginations into reality. So don’t forget them. Revisit them. And with them, realize you are capable.
Michael Luo ’16 (michaelluo@college) is still waiting for his adolescent growth spurt.