By Jeff Smith
I grew up with what I think is a great childhood in most every way. I had (and still have) loving parents, and two wonderful sisters. My mother encouraged me to explore and play outside, often times kicking me out of the house after school and telling me not to come back until the street lights were coming on. It was during this time that I rode my bike for hours, traveling anywhere my friends and I could go that was within our loosely set boundary lines.
To me, at that time, I had a ton of freedom and could do anything that I wanted to do. Climb a giant Magnolia tree all the way to the top? No problem. Ride a bike as fast as you can towards a tree root that will launch you over the creek? Sure. Walk around door to door trying to get a lawn mowing business going? Of course!
Now in my early thirties, I find my self pausing and wondering how I even did these things. Now, I would second guess all of these decisions and think more about the consequences of failure than the sheer victory of success. Granted, I have gained other abilities. I can drive at speed through the construction zones and curvy roads running through downtown Jacksonville with out fear. But what happened to the old me? What happened to simply being concerned about being able to make the jump, get to the top of the tree, or not being concerned if my lawn mowing business would make any money?
What I miss about my childhood was the ability to feel like I could do anything. I had not experienced depression. I’d never felt the horror of a panic attack. I didn’t know anything about financial stress. All of these negative experiences are ones that most people come upon later in life. These negative experiences often times leave mental and emotional scars that take a great deal to overcome.
On the plus side, I did not have a harsh childhood like so many have had. I was able to grow up with a lot of freedom and positive influence. Now that I am older and have realized that I have some scars, I realize that I am not the person that I used to be, and I realize that I want to be that person once again. I guess now, I just need to work harder to make that happen. I need to break free from the negative thoughts that keep me from being as adventurous and outgoing as I once was, after all, you are only as old as you act.