Never let go of your ability to imagine and create worlds. That is something I was told by many adults as a child. But, I don’t think I ever took that advice seriously.
I remember being able to daydream up worlds and writing new stories every day in a little mustache journal. I conjured up drama between people who wore the same scarves to pirate school. I imagined dinosaur-sized squirrels who shook buildings to try and get nuts out of them.
Wouldn’t that be terrifying with the amount of campus squirrels we have? It was a real gift to have that time in my life for however long I could do that.
I don’t particularly remember when it stopped. It could’ve been when I started high school. It could’ve been when I got my first phone and started to cope with boredom by scrolling through social media apps.
But, I miss it. It’s a gift to be able to daydream in your adult life. To let stressors, anxieties, and FOMO evaporate in a world of your imagination. The stories were always beautiful and unique to my experience, but now all I want is another person’s experience. I want to be the person who travels to Cancun over the winter with their best friends. I want to have the perfect body and not struggle with an identity crisis.
I never thought about those things when I was younger. Not when I was in my daydreams. In my daydreams, I was just myself inside a world in which I belonged. I’d daydream about my shadow flipping and leaping over cars when I was in the car on a road trip. And that shadow was my friend who was trying to save the world at my side. I never sought to change myself, but I always put the person that I am into a world shaped around my being.
Now I’m consumed by the other. I’m consumed by the world that shaped me into something else.
You could consider this escapism, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true. It was an outlet that let me be myself in full. I was every part of myself that existed at once. I was the part that was paranoid and adventurous. The part that was selfless and selfish, and it was all perfect and okay. It allowed me to accept my flaws and work on them by envisioning scenarios and implementing them in real life.
Now when I run scenarios, I can’t imagine any good parts. It’s only my anxiety that structures the scenarios where I mess everything up. No matter what, I’m not good enough. When did I let this anxiety overtake this inner world where I am the one who is winning battles?
It’s entirely possible that this comes with adulting, but I do not believe that is the case. I think it comes from a lack of care for our own mental health and well-being. We only notice that we are wrecking our internal world when our mental health starts to falter. I have begun to realize that I have not been taking care of myself.
I have not been in pursuit of caring or building a thriving internal world for myself, because I have stopped daydreaming about a world in which I am a whole person no matter how flawed I am. Social media has portrayed a fantasy, which I know I cannot pursue in the physical world. So, I put myself down in the internal one -thinking- I am fat, ugly, dumb, and not enough.
It is difficult to think this way all the time. It takes a real toll on you physically after your time and headspace is chock-full of self-hate. That is why I’m choosing to explore that side of myself that daydreamed all throughout my childhood. I am choosing to pursue myself.
The truth is, I am tired of giving all of myself to others, even in my thoughts. Daydreaming is a self-pursuit and an adventure into the inner consciousness. I am allowing myself a mental break from the external world, and I am going to spend time with myself in my head. Catch me staring at the ceiling and daydreaming of all the ways the campus squirrels are going to become parasitic animals that burrow into college students as their hosts. I do not care how weird it looks.
I believe that all of us deserve that one-on-one attention to our inner lives. It has been neglected for far too long. Attention to our physical bodies is important, but we place too much importance on that and that alone. Remember that part of you that called out for adventure as a kid. And maybe if that was difficult for you as a child, in what ways can you build a city of your imagination? When you close your eyes and think about fairies, pirates, or your own city, what does it look like? What world are we capable of creating on the outside when we all focus a little bit on the world that exists on the inside?