September 11, 2013

BYRNE | Five Childhood Activities that Never Paid Off in Real Life

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As a junior, I feel like I’m getting perilously close to entering what some might call the “real world,” what others might call “adulthood,” and what I call “scary.” With this old age comes a (very) small bit of wisdom, and I feel that I can now confidently assess some of the decisions I made earlier in life. I’m not sure about everyone else, but I know that I definitely used to take everything way too seriously. Here are five things that I always thought would prepare me for my future, but turned out to be pretty much useless.

1. Collecting Beanie Babies: Remember in elementary school when everyone refused to take the tags off of his or her Beanie Babies, sure that those plush animals would someday be worth millions? Yeah, guess what, they aren’t. I think there is probably one or two Beanie Babies that are actually worth money, but mostly we just deprived ourselves of playing with these toys in the hope that they would fund our college educations. And here we are, thousands of dollars in debt, as our Beanie Babies gather dust in our parent’s attics, with their tags still in those weird plastic protectors.

2. Worrying about quicksand pits: Growing up, I was pretty sure quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it’s actually turned out to be. Contrary to what I was taught in so many cartoons and picture books, quicksand is actually not a part of daily life in the United States. I can honestly say that I have been in a situation that made me fear I would be imminently enveloped by the ground below my feet. All that worry, all those plans to tie myself to a tree stump to avoid being sucked under, all for nothing.

3. Vowing never to drink alcohol: In fifth grade, my whole class had to undergo this conditioning program that made us promise not to ever drink alcohol or do drugs. Honestly, I understand that doing drugs is “bad,” but drinking alcohol seems like a pretty harmless thing, in the grand scheme of all the things to tell fifth graders to avoid in life. On top of that, once you turn 21, the law allows you to drink. My guess is that there are probably plenty of actually illegal things we should be trying to warn our youth about.

4. Avoiding muddy situations: I always thought that because I didn’t like to get my clothes dirty, I was somehow more intelligent and/or advanced than other children. However, now I realize the opposite was true. I was so deathly afraid of getting muddy that I missed out on the limited-time-offers to roll around in a mud pit. My family actually has a home video of all then neighborhood kids frolicking through the mud, as I stand, wearing a pristine white dress, apart from them all. How did I think acting like an adult would make me a better kid? No idea. Now love stomping in puddles; call it regression if you will.

5. Hoarding Stickers: A lot of people gave me stickers when I was young: teachers, piano teachers, parents, friends, bus drivers, etc. Then, instead of sticking these stickers onto things and enjoying them, I started a sticker drawer. There, I put all of my stickers. Then, every once in a while, I would leaf through the drawer and marvel at the vast quantity and quality of my stickers. Looking back, I cannot imagine anything more idiotic. Stickers are made to stick on stuff! While other children were angering their parents by papering the walls with stickers, I never removed mine from their sheets. I did not take full advantage of my sticker potential, and that is my biggest regret.

I started out this list with the intention of writing something more universal, hence the Beanie Babies. It quickly became a list of my own idiosyncrasies. If no one else did this stuff, sorry not sorry. Be glad you were a normal human child.