Year 2023 has unfolded as a journey back to my childhood, a time to nurture my inner child and reflect on the profound teachings I’ve gathered throughout my life. These lessons, many imparted by the wonderful children I’ve worked with, have deeply enriched my understanding.
With over a decade of experience engaging with children of various ages, I now see the clarity in my career choice. Driven by ambition and a deep-seated passion, I’ve always felt a calling to make a difference. A burning question that guided my days was, “What is my purpose on this Earth?”
Living a life on autopilot never appealed to me; I sensed a deeper meaning to our existence. Initially, I equated a purposeful life with grand achievements and societal transformations. This led me to ponder, beyond my role as an early years educator, what grand endeavor could fulfill my purpose. I often reminded myself that I was no Mother Teresa or Dr. Maria Montessori, merely an ordinary individual who relishes the company of children. So, what was my true purpose?
Upon reflection, I was astounded to realize that my purpose had always been right in front of me, yet I had been blind to it. The moment I chose to dedicate myself to the children of the world was the moment I commenced my purposeful journey, regardless of the magnitude of impact. This revelation shifted my life’s trajectory, recognizing that my mission was to foster the development of young, emerging minds. This realization transformed my work into a daily celebration of living my purpose, one brilliant young mind at a time.
Interacting with children, regardless of their age, has always been more fulfilling for me than engaging with adults. This is not to diminish the value of adult interaction or collaboration but to highlight the magical essence inherent in a child’s soul. Their open hearts and curious minds offer a fresh perspective on life, making me feel heard, loved, and connected to a higher state of being.
It humbles me to recognize my gift for connecting with children and providing them with a sense of safety, nurture, and love. The pure, unconditional love of a child is, in my experience, the most sincere form of love one can encounter. Their acceptance and love, even during my lowest moments, have been a beacon of light through my darkest days. It’s those precious moments when they wrap their arms around me, longing for my warmth and care, looking at me with their curious eyes, and asking never-ending questions that have brought me closer to a divine understanding of true love.
Reflecting on my time as an active early educator, I embraced the Montessori method, which taught me that my role wasn’t to teach children anything but rather to love them with the highest positive regard, for love is the greatest teacher. Children have awakened my curiosity and taught me to observe the world with wonder and excitement, much like Dora the Explorer! 🙂
With these reflections in mind, I would like to share three life-changing lessons I’ve learned from the young souls who have blessed me with their love.
Lesson Number One: Never be afraid to be your truest self.
We often hear the phrase “just be yourself,” but how well do we truly understand our own identity? Society imposes expectations on us, dictating how we should behave and live. In this constant race, staying true to ourselves can be challenging, as our authentic selves may not always align with societal standards, leading many of us to adopt a facade.
As children, our emotional expression was often restricted. We might have suppressed feelings like sadness, frustration, and anger to avoid upsetting the adults in our lives. Rarely did we find understanding adults who could comprehend our deeper needs. Expressing dissatisfaction or disagreement often leads to punishment, limiting our sense of autonomy. We were expected to conform to adult expectations, but our natural curiosity was stifled in favor of obedience.
Fast forward to adulthood, and many of us grapple with being genuine in our desires and needs. Understanding our true self, which extends beyond superficial self-awareness, is a challenge because it requires embracing our imperfections, insecurities, fears, and vulnerabilities.
Contrastingly, young children embody authenticity fearlessly. They openly express their emotions, uninhibited, until instructed otherwise. Unafraid of appearing silly and without the tendency to compare themselves to others, they exude assertiveness and confidence. This unabashed authenticity of children can be intimidating to adults, yet it doesn’t bother the children in the slightest, after all! 🙂
From a developmental perspective, we are most authentic at the start of our lives, when we are still discovering our sense of self. Childhood is a critical time that shapes our future, a phase where we develop autonomy, form attachments, and expand our understanding of the world, both physically and psychologically.
My observations of children have taught me that providing them a safe space to be themselves has lasting effects into adulthood. It eases our life journey, keeping us aligned with our true nature. This authentic self-awareness serves as a beacon throughout our lives.
Lesson Number Two: Embrace the Moment
As the adage goes, “Children find magic because they search for it.” This truth has been evident to me time and again in my interactions with children.
Think about it, when was the last time you paused to appreciate the fragrance of flowers, gazed at a star-filled sky, or marveled at the simplicity of a butterfly’s beauty? Children are captivated by these small wonders because they live fully in the moment, embracing life just as it is.
Their minds, brimming with curiosity, are a wellspring of amazement. They observe, engage, and ask endless questions, never ceasing until they find satisfying answers. Their vivid imaginations fuel their sense of adventure. Whether splashing in muddy puddles with excitement like Peppa Pig, children are genuinely elated, feeling on top of the world in their enchanting realm.
Unburdened by expectations or rigid notions of how life should unfold, children value the experience itself. They intuitively understand that life, ephemeral like a passing cloud, is meant to be lived and savored, not merely tamed or achieved.
As an adult, I’m still learning to embrace the present moment. My grown-up conditioned mind often seeks safety and attempts to control circumstances. Yet, witnessing the way children relish each moment has taught me the indescribable joy of living in the now, welcoming all of life’s experiences without preconceptions.
Lesson Three: Love Unconditionally, Unapologetically, and Fearlessly
Of all the lessons I’ve learned, the most profound is the power of LOVE. In any situation, choosing love is the ideal path, but can we consistently follow it? It’s astonishing how something so inherently simple can be challenging in practice.
For adults, loving unconditionally is often a struggle, especially if we’ve been raised in environments where love was hard to find or something we had to earn. The greatest challenge for many is learning to love themselves. We often extend our love to others effortlessly, yet find it difficult to bestow the same kindness upon ourselves. The key question is, do we truly understand what it takes to love?
For children, love is not merely an action; it’s the essence of their being. Everything they do and say is an expression of love, encompassing both the positive and the not-so-pretty aspects. A child can witness their parent’s worst moments and still offer unconditional love. They might endure scolding or punishment but continue to love unflinchingly. Even when conflicts arise with friends, such as a destroyed play tower leading to an outburst, they quickly reconcile without holding grudges. Their declarations of love are sincere. Children naturally love themselves, which in turn extends to the world around them.
As I pen these words, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the children who have illuminated profound truths of life for me. It humbles me to recognize my gift for connecting with children and providing them with a sense of safety, nurture, and love. They have taught me that, regardless of my knowledge and experience, I remain a lifelong learner. The wisdom and affection they’ve shared have enriched my soul beyond what I could have ever envisioned. Being loved by children and serving them is a privilege I cherish deeply.
This year’s most significant insight for me is the realization that it’s never too late to embrace our inner child or experience a joyful childhood. I hope this article kindles a flame within you, encouraging you to discover the wonder within and around you. I eagerly await your thoughts and reflections on your own experiences this year. Your insights and wisdom are something I treasure and look forward to.
I wish you a year filled with discoveries that lead you closer to your life’s purpose. May you nurture and love the extraordinary little child within you, giving them the boundless love they truly deserve. Happy 2024!
With Grace and Gratitude,