I have always been drawn to children. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I became an aunt at the ripe old age of 6 and now have 33 nieces and nephews (I think, I lose count sometimes). In fact, when my youngest sister was born and I was in the first grade, I would race home every day from the bus stop so I could be the first to hold her. There's just something about kids that I find totally irresistible. (That and I loved being able to run faster than my siblings)
Not surprisingly, during my travels I am inevitably drawn to those little faces and huge smiles. I've noticed that no matter how foreign a country can feel (and believe me, it can feel FOREIGN), the one thing that is always constant is the children. They have a way of making me feel at-home and welcome, even if I'm millions of miles away. And though we often think that as adults, we have all the answers and it's our duty to teach the ignorance out of children, I've realized more and more that kids are much better than us at so many things.
Top 10 things I learned from the children of Southeast Asia:
1. Take Risks.
So you may end up in the ER a couple times...so what? That's what nurses are for. You'll never get anywhere in this world worthwhile unless you step out on a limb every now and again and risk failure. Or embarrassment. Or both. You'll be surprised how many times things turn out just fine, or even GREAT!
2. You're never too small.
This world can be a big, scary place, and sometimes it can make you feel very, very small. But don't get it in your head that you aren't capable of something just because it's not the "norm". The minute you start to think that you're not smart enough, young enough, pretty enough, talented enough, or wealthy enough, you'll be right. But only because you think so. So choose the tall bike, even if you can't quite reach the peddles yet and have to walk it for a few years. You'll get there.
3. Be silly.
We take ourselves way too seriously. And what's the point? To appear cool and level-headed? There's a reason the class clown is always so popular. They make people laugh! And not at another's expense. They're honest and real and vulnerable, and nothing is cooler than that.
4. Stay curious.
Don't be afraid of the unknown--even if he's white and speaks a funny language. Ask questions, keep exploring, and never lose your sense of wonder. Don't ever become content with your current knowledge. Continue to learn new things every day because the more you know, the more there is to know.
5. Be proud of your accomplishments.
Sure, there's a time and a place for humility, but if you did something awesome, show the world! Take pride in your hard work and don't be afraid to let others see you shine. After all, you never know who you might inspire along the way.
6. Don't shirk responsibility.
Nobody likes a shirker. Especially not your mom (or your spouse). So do her a favor and don't make her ask twice. Better yet, don't make her ask at all! That'll really surprise her...and possibly secure you a place on the "nice list", which is much better incentive if you ask me.
7. Don't be afraid to ask.
There's only one thing worse than being told "no", and that's not having the courage to ask in the first place. You'd be surprised how many times people are willing to bend the rules just because you questioned if it was possible. Want a free upgrade at the hotel? Just ask. Want a little extra chocolate in your milkshake? Just ask. Want to get through the airport without being attacked by the TSA? Don't ask. (Sorry, there's no getting past that one).
8. Make time to play.
All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy--so what makes you think you're immune? It's amazing how creativity can soar when you give yourself a break from an otherwise monotonous day. Or maybe just the simple act of getting your heart going a bit faster will give you the extra oomph you need to handle whatever life throws at you next.
9. Be yourself.
Diversity is beauty, now more than ever before. Never undermine who you are to fit in with everyone else. Go crazy. Try out that new hair-do, sing along even if you have to make up half the words and strut your stuff in those pleated granny pants. You may turn a few heads, but you'll be a more uniquely beautiful person because of it.
And last, but not least...
10. Clothes are overrated.
They just are.
Who's with me?