When we were kids our imaginations ran wild. I was having a nostalgic conversation with my sister the other day about our childhood that began when I told her how much I missed my imagination. Like my real, honest to goodness, pre-teen imagination. We were so darn creative by our own accord as kids. Always writing our own handwritten fiction stories. Both the self-proclaimed bookworms that found so much solace in library time. The ideas we would come up with for businesses and our little at-home “stores” where we’d make cool stuff just so we could share it with the world. Not that we’ve become dull as adults, but you reach a point in your twenties when you get lost in growing up and not so much in growing brighter. We seem to lose those little beams of light that tell us we can do whatever we want to do, be whoever we want to be, create whatever we want to create. Our imagination doesn’t seem to age with us because we focus so much on how to grow up the right way and not the honest way.
I miss the days when the hardest thing I ever had to do was live up to my own expectations. Finish writing a book that had nothing to do with my actual school work, finish sewing a pillow, or read just one more chapter before lights out. Now, as I sit here feeling caught in the undercurrent of adulthood, struggling to pay bills and feeling, at times, the least inspired I’ve ever felt, I find myself longing for those moments. When I felt like the world was my oyster and I could adventure through life in more than one direction.
I asked myself today: How do we keep our imaginations alive as adults? How do we preserve our creativity in its purest form? How do we live beyond fear and hesitation like we did when we were younger? Albert Einstein once said,”Creativity is intelligence having fun.” When our intellectual stimulation lacks to an extreme degree, so does our creativity. Our imagination runs on empty as a result.
As adults, we have every right to feel worried and scared. Sometimes, we feel stuck in some of the deepest ruts imaginable without any inclination of how to get out. Today, it took remembering that little girl, who lived a life that was entirely her own, to realize just how much potential I possess. I took a moment to step out of myself as a 26 year old and into my mind as a 10 year old and realized I could STILL harness that magic and conquer my world. I am capable of accomplishing everything I need and want to accomplish in my life if I just trust myself.
The same goes for you. It is time to reignite that soulful spark. Take a few moments today and reflect not on who you are, but how you came to be who you are. The experiences that molded you, the crazy dreams you dreamed, what fueled your imagination, your magic. Step outside of yourself and what surrounds you in this moment, live beyond that imaginary box that confines you and really reflect. What did you used to do as a kid? What excited you most? Wake up your beautiful beast, let it run free and see where it leads you. Let it help you feel inspired again. Allow it to create the most unrealistic, unimaginable, wonderful ideas and break through the mental clutter that forces you to feel you can only ever live how you’re expected to as you grow up.
Consider these steps as you exercise your imagination – some of my personal favorites!
- Read a book. Shift your focus and get lost in a different world for a while. A good fiction novel can do wonders for the mind.
- Keep an ideas notebook OR, if you already do that, try these fun free writing challenges.
.:: One word prompts. All it takes is one word to spark your imagination sometimes. Find one and free write. You can write about the word itself or you can use the word as symbolism for a story. This is such a fun, versatile exercise! Check out these prompt examples: happiest, wind, winter, pencil, mistake, exchange, majestic, snow, applause. (Oh! And you can’t use the same prompt twice, so keep track. You’ll be glad you did).
.:: Six word stories. That’s it. Six words. This is one of my absolute favorite exercises when I’m feeling creatively stuck. In just six words you can think of some pretty phenomenal things if you immediately write what comes to mind. Fill a page or two. “She drinks coffee in a cafe” / “Where did he run off to?” / “An old mountain full of mystery.” Each story completely different from the next.
- Do something you enjoyed as a kid. Ride a bike, venture to the park, eat ice cream, watch a certain movie, go to the library, join a club, take up a sport OR do something you wish you tried as a kid. Either way, get yourself out of your comfort zone and back into your kid-fort zone. This will condition your mind to relax and have fun.
Whether you’re 6 or 26, 46 or 106, you are still you. Stay true to yourself, hold tight to those dreams, and don’t lose sight of the stimulation that comes from having an immeasurable imagination.