I recently saw the movie Inside Out. I went with the expectation that it was going to be funny but the truth is it left me feeling very depressed. I don’t want to spoil the movie for you but I will share the reasons I found it so painful.
We are born with the purest of hearts. We love unconditionally and we trust in a way that makes us feel safe and secure. Our eyes only see the good in the world and the people around us. They smile at us and we smile back. The world is a place that is exciting and we are exhilarated by the way we see it every new day. If something is wrong, mom and dad are there to fix it. We want something, it is given to us. We learn that whatever we need will be provided to us by someone else. We are told everything will be okay.
Somewhere along the road of growing up, we learn pain. We don’t wake up excited anymore, we wake up trying to convince ourselves to get out of bed. We are told to suck it up buttercup and keep moving on. We learn that the world is not as safe as we once believed and we learn that people are capable of hurting us in the most horrible ways. We learn that we are on our own and there are just some things that will never be fixed. Everything will not always be okay and we have to deal with the disappointment that brings. We start to love conditionally and we shut ourselves off a little more each time someone lets us down. People we loved so easily start to appear a whole new way. We place conditions on them and they place condition on us. We start to judge our lives and others by the unrealistic expectations that end up killing the spirit that used to make us feel so free. We say and do things we are not proud of and we spend a lifetime trying to forgive ourselves. We spend a lifetime searching for happiness instead of finding happiness in every single thing around us. We start to believe that happiness is dependent on this or dependent on that. We put off living today because we are living the past or rushing the future. Our looking forward to a new day is replaced by dreading another mundane day. The happy go lucky child in us takes on responsibility that doesn’t feel as fun as riding our bike down the street we used to live on each night. Bills happen, tragedies happen, people die and despite the grip we have on the wheel, we cannot control the direction of the car we try so hard to steer. We want life to be fun and roses but the truth is we are sad, discouraged and mostly lonely. We pretend we are happy. We pretend we can handle anything and let life’s blows just roll off our back. The reality is every blow hurts. Every blow leaves a scar and taints the innocent view of the world we once so easily had. We stop seeing through the bright eyes of a child that used to be bursting with life and worst of all, we stop making time to play. We don’t even remember how to play anymore. We are serious now. Mature. Responsible. We wish we had a binky to make it all better or a replacement for that stuffed animal that used to be tucked underneath our arm. Remember how it used to make everything better? Our security blanket is ripped away and we are left alone standing fearfully on our own two feet waiting for Superman to fly in and save the world, save us from ourselves maybe. He never comes. We stop expecting anything from anyone and we stop looking into the eyes of people all together because they are much too busy staring into cell phones to look back. We become one with our sadness until it feels comfortable and slowly, one day, we start to heal.
I’m not trying to say life is horrible. It’s wonderful and there is so much good. What I am saying is growing up can be really hard. We realize that what we believed as a child is not the reality we live as an adult. We discover that life is more than being happy. It is about loving and living and disappointment, success, failure, hurt, pain and everything in between. It is a journey of embracing every detail of your life and reinventing the dream of what you thought it would be into the reality of what it is. You love the inner child in you so she feels safe again and you accept her unconditionally so she learns to reopen the parts of her heart that hurt once closed. You learn to let life happen the way it unfolds and you set your car on cruise control. You accept that everything won’t be okay but you will hold it together to get to another day. You learn that each day holds promise, a chance to do better, to live better and to finally make time to play. You accept that Superman is not real and you learn to become your own hero, to save yourself. You learn that the best friend you could ever have is yourself and to live a way that feels right with your soul. You start to love unconditionally again and you find forgiveness for the ones who let you down. You learn that life will be filled with every emotion and that’s okay. You start to look for the good in everyone and you feel a tremendous amount of gratitude for the blessings that are all around you. You accept that life is tragically beautiful and you buckle your seatbelt for the bumps along the way. You live, you love and you do it all again when you wake up the next day. Life can turn you inside out and make you feel upside down. Learn to stand on your head and enjoy the view from wherever you are.