//the fear of childishness

I was an extremely solemn and somewhat solitary child. I had siblings to play with, but I lived inside my own mind and was just as content building cardboard stables and playing with plastic horses, or scribbling wild and terrible sea monsters, than I was playing with my siblings. Anything I endeavored, I undertook with a face the picture of seriousness, and I tackled hurdles with the ferocity of a pro wrestler. I had a sense of humor, and I could laugh – I simply kept most of it to myself. However, as I grew older, I realized something: not everyone could see inside my head.

They could only see the grave mask I wore and assume I had a terrible disposition and the world had done me an injustice.

My parents helped me overcome my shyness, and I learned to actually engage in conversation; but it wasn’t until my teens that I really began to show who I was.

If you know me at all, you probably know several things about me. You know I love to laugh, and I laugh constantly. You know I love to make other people laugh. You know that my sense of humor is mountainous and frequently less than appropriate, and you know that I enjoy having fun. I enjoy being lighthearted – in fact, I’d probably say I am lighthearted.

I enjoy joy.

However, where before people assumed I was the Grinch incarnate, now people assume I’m childish. But let me clarify: there is a difference between being childish (in the modern sense of the word) and being childlike. The act of being ‘childish’ involves petulance; being ‘childlike’ is a characteristic which, frankly, I think is underrated. Children view the world around them with wide eyes and wonder. They believe in things, they cling to faith they can’t explain, they love and hate with purity and innocence.

I’ve had this assumption quite a few times, and again, I was discussing this with my mom. She’s often said I’m her most difficult child to read – something which, over the last handful of years, I’ve worked on overcoming. I’m highly private and live very much inside the walls of my own head by nature, but nature isn’t always something that should be allowed to continue as-is. If I wanted people to know me, I realized, I had to let them see me, not their perception of me.

If I wanted my real self to be seen, I had to show it.

As I dug into myself, I realized there are misconceptions flung about what maturity is and what it isn’t. People may mistake my lightheartedness as a sign of immaturity, but that’s just what it is – a mistake.

Immaturity involves several things. It involves

• the refusal to see how one’s behavior affects others, or the refusal to care

• the refusal to care about the problems of others

• the refusal to see your own flaws and the refusal to correct them

In short, immaturity is selfish, blind, and stubborn.

It has nothing to do with how often you laugh, or how much you like a good joke. It has nothing to do with your ability to carry on a seemingly unimportant conversation for an hour, because you’re having such a good time with someone else.

Maturity involves being aware of others and of yourself, of seeing mistakes and attempting to correct them, of weighing things with reason, of studying things instead of blindly accepting them.

Being yourself isn’t easy. People will always carry misconceptions – although hopefully, those misconceptions will stop once people get to know you. I know this struggle very well, particularly on Facebook. Facebook is for my persona. It’s where I have fun and keep in touch with friends – if I’m going to have a serious conversation – philosophical, religious, or just life-centered, it isn’t going to be in public on my wall for everyone to see. It’s going to be in a private message, where we can discuss deeply without interference.

It’s not easy for a deeply private person to open up, and it’s something I’ll probably work on my whole life. Even now, I’ll mention how I feel about something on Facebook, or drop a bomb on my blog, and my mom will find me and ask why she didn’t know this. I don’t mean to leave people out. It isn’t a thought process, but all that means is that I need to make letting them in a thought process.

Maturity isn’t something that happens overnight, but I’m not trying to give you a step-by-step guide anyway. In fact, what I’m trying to say has already been said by someone far wiser than I.

‘When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.’ – C. S. Lewis

Advertisements

37 thoughts on “//the fear of childishness

  1. I’ve always loved that quotation of Lewis’. It hits on the head the issue of being childlike versus “grown up.”

    I have a similar issue about communicating my thoughts to those around me. I live inside my head a great deal, though not as much as when I was younger. I even have conversations with those I love and interact with — sometimes even running through the same conversation multiple times — usually because I like to work out my thoughts beforehand, and conversation is the best way for me to do that. Unfortunately, if I have these conversations too much, I think I’ve actually discussed the subject with the other person (or people) and never actually DO.

    I’m working on that. My wife has the patience of Job in dealing with it. ;)

    Like

  2. This is amazing, Mirriam. Thank you. One thing I love most about you is your joy and simplicity of loving and enjoying life and the things around you. I only know one other person who truly manifests that, and the two of you are the most beautiful women I know.

    Like

  3. Wow. I could say so much about this. I’ve always thought and believed this about being child-like verses childish (in the immature sense you mentioned). And children have that innocent, pure appreciation for the world, beauty, and moral justice. They’re passionate in the most sincere form possible; and I’ve always secretly tried to cling to it as an adult because I think clinging to that innocent wonder is oh so important.

    I think Lewis is one of the people who taught me that it’s okay to be an adult but retain the wonderful, child-like sense of innocence and state of being. I remember reading the dedication to the real Lucy the first time I read ‘The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe’ as a young child and it struck me tremendously. I’ve always tried to hold onto that starry-eyed view even though I /know/ how sad and dark the world is and can be– but I try to stay childlike… I never tried to grow up, the way Susan did. Mature? Yes, I did. Working hard? Yes, I do. But grow up in the sad sense? In the sense where I lost touch with the wonder of a child’s faith? Never.

    …And, I think it must have worked because the thing I am told most often is that I’m child like, passionate, and innocent… and they always mean it in a good way. Strangers tell me this; and, they always mean it positively. They’re afraid of offending me; but it doesn’t, because I want to be that sort of person…

    I’ve talked about these things in my own stories, but never really verbally. So it’s amazing to see someone else talk about them on their blog like this and in the way I see it. It’s weird, but incredible!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love this post. It also makes me think, because I’m a very inside-my-head person as well. I don’t think I’ve figured out yet “who” I am though and definitely not how to show that person to everyone else. The real me is so weird and different and controversial, perhaps even radical, that not even my closest friends have seen that side of me. Because I think I’m afraid of people not liking me for who I am. It’s a problem. I put on a mask and I’m someone different for everyone I know and I don’t know how to fix it.

    But that’s kind of off topic. It is good to be childlike and laugh and I do love that Lewis quote. :)

    Like

    1. The unfortunate thing about a mask is that you can’t just rip it off all in one go, like a Band-Aid. I had to make a habit of realizing when I wasn’t being myself – when I was purposefully keeping silent because I thought nobody would be interested, or when I wasn’t laughing at something I thought was funny, and then I had to consciously act on how I felt. Finally being myself became a habit, but it was constant practice for a very long time.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. *sneaks in and hugs you* because you’re amazing, and I would like the real you. You’re amazing <3 Being weird, different, and controversial is okay. The world needs people like that– people like you. We're too comfortable with being politically correct. Keeping being you, the you that God created– the you that is /glorified/ God for Him to create you to be exactly you <3 Love you girl! <3

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to struggle with this, but in reverse. I used to be extroverted. I was a very outgoing and energetic child. It wasn’t until I hit middle school that I started noticing that there were some people who didn’t like me for who I was. It was really hard for me to overcome that, and I still struggle with those people that hurt me. Some of them I know didn’t mean to make me feel unaccepted, but they also didn’t try to reach out to me, either. I have a hard time showing my true colors to new people because I worry that they won’t accept me. That’s why my closest friends are either people I met before this time or people that are outcasts themselves. It makes me happily surprised to know that someone likes my quirks and antics. That’s why I try to let people know that I like the things that they do that make them unique.

    Like

  6. I once had another mom at school overhear my talking and laughing with my dad when he picked me up from a party and she said she always assumed I as incredibly shy since she had never heard me talk before. Yeah, we thought that was hilarious. Most people can’t get me to stop talking, I’m just not friends with your son (nice guy), so I don’t talk much around you. And I all too well understand the “the world has done me an injustice” face. I swear I’m not angry, just focused!

    Like

  7. Oh, how I can relate! Especially the whole dropping info bombs on Facebook or Blogger and leaving my poor family (which is large and now somewhat scattered, therefore rather difficult to inform) to find out via those impersonal mediums. I have since decided that I will never post any important news on a public forum unless I have first informed my entire family. This is harder to stick to than I originally thought it would be, but it’s definitely helped me avoid several awkward situations. I appreciate what you said about nature, and how sometimes (OFTENTIMES) our natural selves are not our best selves. It is so good to have this attitude of humility and a willingness to change, instead of just shouting to the world, ‘this is how I am! Accept me!!!’

    Great post! Keep up the good work!

    Like

  8. This is one of your best posts. I see a lot of myself in this. One time, I saw a couple girls laughing and immediately thought, “Probably just typical, immature, and stupid teens” and then I thought, “Wait. They could just be having fun. And that’s okay. And no one should be judged for laughing.”

    And I’m glad you had an issue with opening up and letting people know your thoughts because I don’t know how to do that and I’m glad I’m not alone. It’s kind of frustratingly amusing sometimes because I’ll think something for a long time, then bring it up, and no one has a clue as to what I’m referring to. xD Or talk like they know the basis of a topic and they have no idea. I believe that’s called “the Burden of Knowledge.” It’s a thing.

    Also, the bit about letting people see who you are as opposed to letting people see who you want them to see you as is something I have a problem with too (usually not with you – so yes, I’m still an obnoxious papaya).

    Anyway, thank you for growing, being childlike, and opening up. <3

    Like

  9. Love this. I was a shy child as well, and it took years of parental wisdom and stretching situations to get me to show myself friendly. I’m still working on it. ;) I can recall times people were surprised to discover my louder side, which is reserved for people I know well.
    And like you, I absolutely love to laugh. Sometimes at things that probably aren’t all that funny to the ones making me laugh… XD

    Like

  10. <3 For some reason it continues to make me laugh when I see similarities in our life stories. XD
    My mother always says I was born an adult, and really, I always was. If you'd met me even 6 years ago, I don't know that you'd have recognized anything about me – basically, the more I've actually grown up…the more childish I’ve become. And…well, pretty much everything you said, I could repeat.. It’s hard to share sometimes…but I have seen people dislike who they thought I was, and only because I was afraid to show them who I actually am. It’s ridiculous. XD
    I’m still working on it, and yeah, probably always will…but it’s good to be known, it’s good to be delighted by life and to fall in love easily and find joy in little things. :) I’m still a perpetual adult…but life is far more fun now that I’m adult enough to be a childlike. :D

    Like

  11. Thank you, Mirriam, for making this post! This is the sort of thing I need to read! My family is just a collection of introverts. I’m incredibly shy, yet I’m the most out-going in the group. Being surrounded by people who keep everything bottled up, I usually need to remind myself to open up to my friends and family.
    I’ve been called childish before and I always ignored those who said that to me. Why did I have to listen to them? But I never thought about the difference between being “childish” and being “childlike”.
    I never really cared how mature people thought I was. So, I’m not sure why this post affected me so much, but it did. Thank you again, Mirriam, for saying what I needed to hear (read)!

    Like

  12. THIS. This, this, this, THIS. I wish I could express how much THIS this is!

    You literally just summed up my whole view on, well, basically everything. I’m sure you’ve caught on by now I’m a very lighthearted, happy-go-lucky, childish person. I’m 23 but I probably come off as a 12 year old. It makes me upset (like, REALLY upset) when people describe maturity as spending your life having intellectual, philosophical debates and walking around being sober 24/7. That’s not how God wants us to live, He wants us to be JOYFUL. I’m just not a serious person, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. God meant for us to have fun and laugh a lot and enjoy the life He has made for us. Solemnity isn’t maturity, having joy is.

    Sure, there is DEFINITELY a time to be serious and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with those who are, but having a childlike wonder of the world is a beautiful gift.

    And I could literally go on and on and on about this subject (it’s basically on my mind 98% of the time), but you literally put every single one of my thoughts in this beautiful post. So, again I say, THIS. *gestures to entire blog post*

    Like

  13. This woman (pointing at myself) right here TOTALLY gets this post. I have a BLAST being childlike, and am often misunderstood (especially in this other country… sigh) . But… what a joy it is finding ways to TAKE JOY in life, because without it… it (days, challenges, things) gets too hard to bear. So… it isn’t about taking serious things lightly; it is about facing the hard things with a smile and saying, “let’s get through this.” it isn’t Always easy, but I take it seriously when God’s words says to “encourage yourself daily”, to bring request before Him, with THANKSGIVING. To remember that “This is the day that the Lord has made, I will rejoice and be glad in it.” I can naturally have a “DOWN”- thought weighing disposition, I can, but I fight it, because I know where that leads, and I refuse to allow it (the binding depression that can take over) to govern my days, my life, and, so, to govern my family! Being childlike… laughing at myself… finding pleasure in the very littlest of things… SUCH FUN! and Worth it in the light of years laden with drama, trama, grief. Life looks a little less dark when i take things in a CHILD-LIKE way, (not childish, hahahahah… been there, done that, too… not pretty. Don’t like to go there. hahahah)

    Like

  14. Oh wow…this post touched my soul and made me so happy! I could nod my head and say “Yes, that’s me.” to so many of the points you made…the more I read your blog, the more I believe we are very much alike when it comes to personality! and THANK YOU FOR MAKING THE CHILD-LIKE/CHILDISH EXPLANATION. So many people have a misconception that those are different. My mom has told me that growing up I had a maturity beyond my years, but I was (and still am) very child-like. Other people have pointed this out (and thankfully those people knew the difference between child-like and childish) I am child-like. and I am twenty-two years old. But that’s ok. Honestly, the world needs more of us who see it without a filter and believe in it as a whole even though there is so much horrible and bad, and still consider it a beautiful place despite the ugly. You can’t have good without evil…but you CAN believe that good will always overcome evil. ;)
    I ALWAYS lived in my head, and I still do. I am an extremely private person and Mirriam, when you said your mom would point out that she didn’t know something or how you felt about something until seeing it somewhere on your blog or Facebook…I can relate! I don’t purposefully NOT tell people things…I’m just not the type to tell people everything about everything. you described it perfectly: It isn’t a thought process for us.
    For at least 3 years I have been trying to learn about myself. About ME.
    That is wonderful you are doing the same! Doesn’t it give you a peace of mind knowing you’re a normal person and that everyone is just different and thats ok and beautiful because it takes all kinds to make a world?
    Knowing more about myself helps me to understand other people. and understanding other people is fascinating and necessary for me. (plus honestly, I think its a writer thing XD
    We are the observers of the world, the contemplators, the dreamers, the believers, the seekers, the healers…dare I say the nerves system of the universe?
    Okay, Im done now XD
    Thank you for being your self and sharing this post with your blog! It was so refreshing, a great reminder and just simply beautiful and uplifting <3
    P.S. laughter (joy) is stupendous!

    Like

talk to me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s