I love seeing children meet their heroes.
Whenever ESPN runs a special on young athletes getting to meet their favorite sports stars, so that they can practice wrestling moves with John Cena or shoot baskets with Chris Paul, it is easy to see the influence professional athletes have on the youth, as well as the impact kids have on the competitors they court.
Seeing grand instances of generosity from professionals, like when football (soccer) star Cristiano Ronaldo gifts a fan with his shirt, (despite being a rabid FC Barcelona supporter myself), I think to myself, “maaaan, how cool is that?!”
What about when actors or musicians surprise their high school with a simple visit?
What a wonderful thing that is, having someone to look up to, someone or something to aspire to. The impact there is huge.
Recently, I’ve pondered over what I would say to my younger, less knowledgeable, far more impressionable self.
I brood over what I would say to him, curious about how I’d relate, if I could. Would he even recognize me? Would he be comfortable around me?
I was no more rambunctious than most adolescents, but I was definitely full of life. I grew uncomfortable with being contained for long periods—I’ve got sports to thank for that; I needed to be on the move. I loved and cared deeply for my friends, and was always willing to make new ones. I spoke a lot, and regularly fashioned smiles from ear to ear (though I maintain to this the day that I did not know how to smile).
I am not that person anymore, at least not entirely. Remaining true to my early love of sports and games, I retain my desire to be active and competitive. I’ve become significantly more pensive, however, which has consequently made me more tranquil and perhaps less talkative. Mulling over (most) decisions before finally making them, I regularly give myself headaches.
Perhaps not as overtly friendly as I once was, I still value making good friends and maintaining strong friendships immensely.
I ask myself from time to time if He would be proud of me, proud of where I’ve taken us. Today, I find myself in a place even foreign to my own eyes, so it isn’t hard to imagine that he would be confused by what has transpired.
Not everyone aims to be a role model—many people frankly do not even like children. The fact remains nevertheless, we all were adolescents once upon a time, looking towards early and late adulthood with fervor or angst, general excitement and fear.
Having role models helps deal with these tendencies constructively—on top of providing a good example to go with it—so we can at least come to agreement that role models are important, irrespective of whether or not you actually want to be one yourself. And whether or not you want to be an example for other children, there will always be one child who will require your guidance—your inner child.
Catering to this inner child can provide a welcome escape from whatever you’re going through at the moment, a moment of respite, a calming effect, a gentle reminder even of who you really are. Moreover, feeding your inner child is just healthy; it provides balance.
If given the opportunity to speak to your 8-year-old self, face-to-face, literally looking into the eyes of your potential, what would you say? What would you like to say?
These are difficult questions, probably ones you’ve never even cared to ask yourself. Try it. You might be surprised by your answers.
Be the person your younger self would admire. Be the idol you always wanted to meet.