In all my younger years I’ve grown up restricted in my house. Coming over to friends’ houses and enjoying walks in the park were never an option. As students in my elementary school spent their weekends taking dance lessons or participating in their soccer or volleyball teams, I was left at home with nothing but loads of math textbooks and recorded tapings of Full House, Golden Girls, and Family Matters on the DVR. What a childhood, right? As great as it was to spend my hours with the lovely Steve Urkel while learning my multiplication tables, I’ve always felt like I’ve wasted years of what could’ve been that fun, summer camp-esque childhood that every kid dreams of. The truth behind it all was that, like most, my parents couldn’t bare the thought of losing their kid. Also they were so determined to have this all-knowing and intelligent child, that they’ve always concluded that summers and free time should never be wasted on bike rides, movies, or jump roping with your best friend. But in reality, parents and guardians can’t expect to have an all-going, smart, social, bright child if they hide them away from the real world. As much as it hurts, they must let them experience the fun of life as early as possible because those experiences–not textbooks, tutoring, or television–are what will add the color to their minds.
Growing up doing nothing but learning made me feel as though I possessed no true talent or voice. During those activities where each student would share their “favorite thing to do for fun,” I can very well remember it going like, “Sally loves to swim, Andy loves to dance, Michael loves to plays football, and Cathy likes to study.” You can imagine how the rest of my year went from there.
Not to say that I haven’t gained anything from those years of endless math problems and textbook readings, but I can definitely say that I was the most awkward and timid kid in my whole class. Presentations killed me, looking people in the eye terrified me, and group activities were definitely a mess. My experience in elementary and most of middle school was the eptiomy of how unhealthy it is to not allow for kids to participate in activities at a young age. It took me awhile to finally find the true passions and desires that made me feel confident and proud to let myself out there. And though I believe everything in life occurs for a reason, I can’t help but imagine what I could’ve been if I had explored those different possibilities of extracurriculars and uncovered my potential further back into my childhood.
It took a while for me to realize that as many tests that you ace and as well as you are able to solve that math problem, it does not benefit you as far as social and life skills go. You can stuff your face in your books and you can watch Michelle say, “You got it, dude,” as many times as you want, but that television screen and those old, torn up pages are only blocking you from seeing the beauty of the world, making new friends, and having that personality and voice that makes you colorful and extraordinary. A child’s mind can only develop through experiences–whether they be failures or accomplishments. But to develop that color, one must test the waters. They must fall but later stand up. They can’t be guarded all their life. Otherwise they’ll grow up unwounded and intelligent, but bland and still searching for their color.