Living In Your Own World
Understanding how to live in your own world is essential, or else you may find yourself living in someone else’s.
As babies, we all dwelled in vast, endlessly entertaining bubbles of selfness. We found amusement in sparkly stickers, calming colors, funny faces, and even the sound of our own cries. Everything around us was fascinatingly new; the world seemed to exist for us alone, and things we had never seen, places we had never visited, had no substance whatsoever in our minds. It was as if the world had no past, and everything simply came into being right before our eyes at the very moment we experienced it.
Since then, a lot has changed. The world has gotten narrower as morals, societal customs, and outside expectations delineate the lives we lead. Adults have sat down seriously to explain to us the way life works, and most of us have taken the path of least resistance and followed their rules. It is easy to be convinced by them; after all, they are the ones that created children, and it is hard to imagine how out-of-touch they could be with their own childhoods. Yet even still, in the back of every person’s mind there is a place far, far away – a safe place without any pressures, where all that is left are fantasies and positive feelings. Few people still remember the promise they made to themselves when they were younger, that they’d never grow up and act like “them.” Those that have lost touch with their childhood miss out on the serenity of dwelling in their own imaginations, and the security that comes with being intimately in touch with oneself. In some way, their joy is limited by what society will allow them to feel.
In the last few years, I’ve watched myself waver between timorous child and responsible adult – and thankfully I have been able to save myself from falling into the chasm of adulthood. The struggle to remain a child and avoid the prefabricated behaviors of grown-ups has been one of the most difficult of my life, as it meets with opposition at almost every turn.
In the course of my mission to stay childlike, I’ve developed several survival skills. These techniques have effectively shielded me from the outside world:
Sinking Into Your Subconscious. Knowing how to drift off into a peaceful place where you can be alone with your imagination is fundamental to remaining a child. In order to keep your head in the clouds, practice unfocusing your eyes so that the world is a blur around you and your head feels light and fuzzy. It is easier to see inside of you if you can’t see what’s outside of you. (Make exceptions for frolics through nature or interactions with pleasant people.) If you regularly commute to adult places like schools or workplaces, buy a portable music player so you can block out their world and fill yours with sounds that put you in an uplifting or exploratory mood.
Surrounding Yourself With Other Dreamers. If you become friends with someone who gossips a lot, guess what? You’re going to hear a lot of gossip. By the same token, if you fill your social circle with positive people who share your dreamerlike qualities, your state of mind will not be interfered with as frequently and you may be able to partake in their reveries as well.
Deflecting Negativity. Negativity is unavoidable, but it can be substantially reduced if you know how to shield yourself from it. Although it is difficult to deflect negativity the way a stone wall deflects a pebble, the skill does exist and can be honed. The easiest way to do this is to follow the first two guidelines and simply steer clear of places and situations that breed negativity. However, when negative people or institutions are a part of your everyday life, one useful strategy for blocking them out is reducing them to concepts. Annoying people can be viewed as big, dumb dogs who simply don’t know better. Authority figures can be pictured naked or in highly embarrassing situations. Rude or overly-competitive people can be sorry sacks who never received enough love as children. If you can manage to keep your concepts present even when directly dealing with these individuals, you will be able to successfully deflect their negativity. For more on this subject, see Ridding Your Life Of Negative People.
Knowing How To Act Like Them. Unless you are a hermit or so powerful that nobody would ever dare try to impose their point of view on you, you will have to take on the real world sometimes. In these cases, rather than bringing further scrutiny to yourself by professing your abandonment of adulthood, simply put on an act. One important caveat: It is very important to realize you are acting while it is happening. Many teenagers act like adults with the best intentions and then quietly succumb to the pressure of following social conventions without realizing that this action is precisely what they were trying to avoid. Make sure to snap yourself out of acting mode as soon as the adults or adult-wannabes have dispersed.
Those who learn how to inhabit their own minds have the incredible ability to restore the magic of childhood. The drawback is that they will constantly be confronted by naysayers, proclaiming: “You’re not living in the real world.” But if you hear that line often enough, you know you’re doing a good job.
Evan Bailyn is a serial entrepreneur, search engine and social media expert, celebrated author and child advocate. His company, First Page Sage, is a leader in search engine optimization and social media marketing - vastly increasing business for its clients through high SEO rankings, targeted Facebook advertising and viral videos. Evan is also the founder of the Evan Bailyn Foundation, a foundation dedicated to teaching emotional awareness to children and adults.