Cognitive Tool: Thinking of Yourself as a Kid

Kids do stupid things, amirite?

When kids do stupid shit, we tend to be forgiving. Hell, a lot of the time when kids do stupid shit it’s downright adorable. Ever think about how strange it is that we, as a species, interpret a lack of basic motor coordination as incredibly endearing?

Anyway, the reason I bring it up is that I think it’s an important frame of mind to hold onto into adulthood. When a kid makes a stupid mistake because, hey, they’re new here, and they don’t know how things work, we understand that. We’ll forgive grabbing the cat’s tail, asking embarrassing questions in public, not understanding physical boundaries, staring, etc. They’re kids, they’re young, they’re learning.

By the time we’re adults, though, this tends not to be the case anymore. You’re an adult, you should know the rules, and you should know how things work, or so the narrative seems to go.

I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty rare that I feel like I actually know how things work. Especially when I’m exploring new things.

Lately, for example, I’ve been trying to figure out this whole Being Slutty thing, and to decide what I actually enjoy doing casually and what I don’t, and how much, and why. Sometimes something I thought would be an awesome experience leaves me feeling uncomfortable afterward, and sometimes something I thought would be uncomfortable isn’t. When this happens, in particular when I feel uncomfortable about something I did, I always seem to spend some amount of time telling myself I should’ve known. That is, until I realize how silly that is.

The truth is that I’m new to a lot of the things that are going on in my life right now, and it completely makes sense that I’m going to react to things in ways I don’t anticipate. That’s what happens when you’re exploring new things. If it didn’t happen, it wouldn’t really count as exploring.

When things don’t go like I expect, I try to remember that there’s no reason not to think of myself the same way I’d think about a kid making any of the silly mistakes they’re so prone to making. I’m exploring new things, just like they are. I’m going to fuck up, just like they are. That’s what happens, and it’s a good thing, because we’re all in this to learn and the only way to learn is to experiment, and the only useful experiments are the ones where you don’t know in advance how they’re going to turn out.

Food for thought.