On Wind, Superpowers, Growing Up, and a Yellow Fuzzy Journal

Growing up happy

Growing up sucks. I think everyone would tell you the same. I’m not sure why I was so excited as a kid when I thought about growing up. Maybe it’s because I thought there’d be a lot of freedom and that happiness would fall from trees. Money too.

When I was a kid, my friends and I used to love strong winds that would create chaos in our hair. We would run around and pretend we were superheroes. We tied the arm of our jackets around ourselves, pretending the jackets were capes and the wind would make us feel like we were flying at supersonic speeds.Wind Farm

Sometimes we’d pretend we were characters from Dragon Ball Z. Ah, how the strong winds meant a lot to us.

Fast forward to last week when Arizona was experiencing incredibly heavy winds. I couldn’t help but go “Damn it, are you serious?”, as I rushed to the nearest building. I’m an adult now and I don’t have the same sense of excitement towards the elements anymore.

How could I go from someone who flew around in the wind with his super-powered buddies to a person who absolutely hates the wind? Oh, I know! It’s because I’m afraid it’ll ruin my perfectly sculpted hairdo for the day. Is there a life quote about how ridiculous that is?

When I was a kid, I didn’t care how my hair looked. In fact, I didn’t care how my hair looked until last year!

When I was a kid, all I cared about was living life and enjoying every second with those I loved. What happened to that kid? Where did this Vincent who cares about his hair or what other people think of him come from? Growing up did nothing but weaken my sense of enjoyment. Sometimes I forget how to be happy.

Now I have moments where I’m insecure. I begin to worry about the very things that my younger self would tell the world “I don’t care!”, in response to the world’s mockery.

Am I talking funny? Is my hair looking exactly the way I left it in the morning? Do my friends still love me? Am I good enough?

I never asked myself these before. Have I forgotten how to stop worrying? Life has this funny way of stripping us of our natural comfort as we grow up. Then it replaces our thoughts with fear of others’ judgment.

That may seem obvious, but how often do you think about that?

I can’t even enjoy running around in the wind anymore because I’ll worry about what others would think of an 18 year old running with both arms ahead. Then I’ll worry about my hair. That’s right, I care more about my damn hair than I do having fun.

Happy child looking upIt’s funny to reflect every now and then and look at how much we’ve all changed. We’ve got to ask ourselves on occasion, “Am I still happy?” 

I remember playing Yu-Gi-Oh cards with my friends during recess. I remember having a hula-hoop contest against one of my best friend’s dad. I even remember getting in trouble for talking to my friend about adult websites when I was in elementary.

In fact, I got in trouble all the time! I did all kinds of risky nonsense as a child and every time a teacher called my name, my heart started pounding faster and faster. I swear, every time my name was called, I thought it was because I’d finally been caught with whatever I was doing that week.

I can’t even remember the last time in recent years that I got in trouble. Maybe growing up gave me invulnerability against trouble.

I no longer take risks or say the things I want to say anymore. I no longer shout random things at the top of my lungs because I’m afraid that a cute girl may walk by and raise an eyebrow at my “uniqueness.”

The one thing I wish I did as a child is journal consistently. I could read through the pages during a rainy day in 2013 and smile at my childish wonder. Then I could learn from it.

I actually did journal for a while as a kid. I won this yellow fuzzy notebook from my elementary teacher. In fact, I still remember what I wrote in it!

An old friend and I promised each other we’d move to Japan in the year 2020 and build robots together. I put a reminder for my future self to move to Japan, on the very last page of that yellow fuzzy notebook. Too bad my friend and I don’t talk anymore. No robot for me.

All of that is gone now and I have no choice but to keep living life, slowly conquering my insecurities with my mental toolbox. I can feel myself getting wiser every day, but that doesn’t make me happier. Then again, I’m still growing up so maybe it’ll get better (or worse!)

Even with all that I’ve accomplished in the past few months alone, I wonder if I’m any happier than I was before. I frequently wonder if I forgot how to be myself.

I don’t have any advice or call to actions I can offer you today, but I do have two questions for you.

What are some of the freedoms you were able to enjoy as a child because you had less mental restraints on yourself? How did “growing up” affect you?

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Vincent Nguyen is the author of Self Stairway and founder of Growth Ninja, a digital marketing agency that specializes in Facebook Ads. Voted "Most Guapo" five years in a row (lost during 6th year to a hand model.)

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42 responses to On Wind, Superpowers, Growing Up, and a Yellow Fuzzy Journal

  1. I wish I could teach my daughter this. She’s eight and I’m trying to prepare her for exactly what you’ve written about. Kids are beautiful and girls especially in my book. But girls usually struggle even more than boys with esteem and self-doubt. I hope I can help my daughter navigate through all that. As for the wind, I still like the wind, but I cursed it last week when it blew a shopping cart into the door of my car and made a dent.

    • I’ve been cursing the wind all week here in Vermont Dan. Maybe today I’ll just step outside and enjoy it.

    • It’s a tough thing to learn as a child. I still remember thinking to myself, “I can’t wait until I’m 14.” I had no particular reason either because at the time, I was a very happy child. Maybe I was an optimist with too much expectations. Don’t get me wrong, I’m living a great life, but it’s through a different lens than I once had.

  2. It’s sad to think how much we lose when we grow up. We lose the wonder we once held for this mysterious world. We lose our thrill for the moment. Our anticipation for the new day.

    We give up our sense of play. Our sense of adventure.

    And we cage ourselves. We lock up all our hopes and dreams. We strip ourselves of the qualities that made us so unique. All in the name of conformity. To fit in. To be normal.

    Such a loss.

    It doesn’t have to be that.way. We can get it back. I hope we can anyway. It’s certainly a goal worth striving for.


    • It’s definitely possible to get it back. Many of the things you mentioned are qualities I still possess. However, there is just that added layer of insecurity that comes with the desire to appear attractive or uphold a certain status.

  3. I think ‘growing up’ is a social construct that doesn’t really exist. Being 28, I know this for a fact because as you reach post-21, suddenly a massive amount of expectation gets brought onto the plate by society and your immediate family.

    “Oh Onder, you’re getting older now, have you thought about settling down?”

    “I didn’t expect that kind of behavior from you at your age, maybe you should start growing up”

    “What you’re doing doesn’t reflect your age Onder, act your age”

    Once you become aware of it happening to you, you begin to realize, society has been built in such a way that it’s conditioned all of us to behave in a certain way, to the extent of manipulating and convincing everyone else to do the same, even if it means shaming you into place.

    I would say not to worry about it. As long as you’re aware of your external surroundings, you’ll be able to see the falseness of societal expectations, and begin living your life the way you want it.

    I rarely look or act my age and don’t really care because of the realization. I still play loads of video games, hang out with guys in their teens and early twenties and have fun.

    Live the life you want to live and don’t let your age be a barrier or let society affect your mindset.

    Great article by the way 🙂

    • Can’t say it any better than that, Onder! Acting your age is over-rated.

    • Age is a pretty funny thing. We all mature differently and some of us enjoy being a little looser than the expectations of our age.

      I completely agree with you, Onder, but my concern isn’t growing up age-wise that makes me sad. It is the fact that growing up and consequentially becoming more socially aware is what ruined a perfectly upbeat optimist. As a child, you don’t realize that there are many things others see. You don’t even let that thought cross your mind. Then as you “mature,” you begin to prioritize things and I think sometimes my priorities are in the wrong order.

    • As Tom said, acting your age is indeed overrated, but even so I do believe there are some ‘boundaries’ which shouldn’t be crossed, the one I’m mainly thinking of is taking responsibility. By all means be who you want and live a life of unparalleled joy, but make no mistake in taking responsibility for it.

      That is something I do find ‘childish’, blaming others for their own actions is something that gets me, and is something that I think does come with age. I’m not necessarily talking about the responsibility of living by yourself or whatnot, more the things which could be at the expense of others. Fun has it’s boundaries, and I think the biggest boundary is when you start expending other peoples’ joy for your own content.

      In principle though I definitely agree, Onder! Don’t let society strike you because you prefer to do things that a person of a younger generation might!

      • Very insightful, Nick. A more difficult side of this to see is blaming our own dissatisfaction with life on others. More often than not, it’s our mindset or our own selves that cause this discontent. One of my first articles actually deal with this issue which you can read here.

        This is something I try to be careful of. It’s easy to blame others or any other external factors on our own happiness. More often than not, all we need to do is look within to find the cause of the problem.

  4. This post brought back great memories of playing in the backyard with my neighborhood friends – building a tree house, playing hide & seek, exploring the woods, riding bikes, and acting like superheroes. I don’t know why, but we forget how to play as we get older. Only in the last few years have I reverted back to some of my childhood loves. That’s why I try to explore and hike often. It’s my way of bringing back some of that childlike wonder and adventure.

    Your blog reminded me of a post I wrote a few months back: “Why I Went Running in the Rain.” http://www.trailreflections.com/2012/08/23/why-i-went-running-in-the-rain/

    • Thank you for sharing that post with me, Chris. I personally adore the rain on most occasions, but there isn’t that childlike wonder anymore. I don’t scream with excitement and run outside to feel the rain anymore. Last I really enjoyed the rain was three years ago as my friends and I continued to play Tennis as it poured harder and harder.

  5. A thoughtful and moving post, Vincent. I spend a lot of time viciously beating back the obligations and responsibilities of growing up. Most of them are totally optional anyhow. And I get in trouble every day of my life with someone, mostly my wife (in a playful way). I am 43 and rather than mellowing, I am getting worse and worse. My behavior has been atrocious for the last 3-4 years and there’s no end in sight. At the risk of being a bad influence, I’d say start yelling random shit out once in a while. It feels great.

    I’d like to say that I created more as a kid, but that is untrue. I create more now. I think I may have thrown more items like balls, rocks and frisbees, but I do it whenever I can get away with it. Get me near a shore with some stones and I be there for hours trying to skip them and beat my own record number of skips. Play, play, play your freakin life away. That’s what I say.

    • That’s not the advice of bad influence at all! That is actually the voice of my liberator. Maybe I’ll yell out the window, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Okay, no, I won’t.

      Funny though, some of my friends have the ability to give me “revertigo.” Sometimes I just totally go back to my childish self and start screaming when I’m with them. I also laugh in a pitch that I never laugh in.

      That reminds me… I can’t believe I didn’t skip rocks when I was back in California this weekend! Damn it.

  6. What a great post, Vincent, and so true. We do lose that fun. I teach young kids and hear them say things like, Being an adult is all about work. Eeks!

    It is funny you mention hair. I have medium-long hair and find that, when I wear it down, I am prone to being in a foul mood. Crazy, I know, but it’s true. I don’t like hair in my face or blowing around. Solution: put it up in a bun! Hello!

    Until a few years ago, I was really trying to be the best adult I could be – by everyone else’s standards (and my interpretation of those arbitrary standards). Now I go out with my frayed bag and the same clothes I wear week in and week out. I care a lot less, and it is a lot more fun.

    To be sure, it is always a battle between conformity and fun. Thank you for sharing.

    • Interesting! As a child, I couldn’t wait to become an adult!

      Maybe you’re a Super Saiyan from Dragon Ball Z. That explains the hair affecting your mood! 🙂

      Ha, I’m beginning to implement more baggy t-shirts and basketball shorts into my daily attire as well. Although I love clothes, it feels nice to just grab something and toss it on every so often.

  7. Great article and way too true,

    The society we grew up in today defines that risk, caution, creativity, and innovation, are all bad things. Those are the very traits kids have that are mentioned in this particular blog post.

    As a young high school cross country runner, I always ran in a t-shirt and shorts regardless of the weather, even if it was cold. Now I come out of the house every morning in a hoodie and tight pants like the adults I once mocked on my runs for being too much of a wussy. How ironic.

    The thing is that if we don’t embrace the traits that kids have, we shall never progress as adults, never to living an exciting and adventurous life, never to be satisfied and always regretting that we never lived our lives like we should have. We’ve given them up in order to conform to other people’s standards in society.

    I believe that if we are to truly embrace ourselves, we shall be like children once more, only as adults though hahaha.



    • Interesting insight, David. It is pretty crazy how we become the very people we thought once were so ridiculous. My friends and I used to make fun of what we called “tryhards.” Nowadays, I’m struggling to maintain the momentum of a full-blown tryhard.

      Embracing these traits is difficult when we have these mental locks on ourselves. Perhaps I should write a list that outlines what childish trait I must embrace on a specific day.

  8. Wonderful way to embrace this very special “uniqueness.” Being comfortable with oneself is one of the best qualities one can have.

  9. I honestly love the idea of growing up, and that’s not because I’m young.

    I can relate a lot to what you wrote in this article. I would say it all but Onder already did, it’s society’s way of conditioning us.

    Though there is some amount of pressure on ‘growing up’, I prefer to look at it as an opportunity. Not an opportunity to be more mature, conditioned, or normal – but an opportunity to be different.

    Looking back on my childhood, I was rather fearless and naive. Some of the things I did were just plain stupid, like taking on kids twice the size of me. But if we can just take some of that ‘fearless’ element and use it in our lives today, it’d be very beneficial.

    It becomes a habit though, you know, making sure your hair looks good. I do the same. Sure it’s fine for us to have pride in our appearance, but when it takes heed over the important stuff? Something’s wrong. I think what might help is an assessment of ourselves on a regular basis. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while… maybe a fortnightly review of our thoughts and happenings throughout the time period.

    I don’t know. Anyway, loved your article! Thanks a lot Vincent.

    • Ah, I remember my fearlessness as a child too. It must have appeared to be borderline mental to some people!

      Yup, I don’t disagree that you can take pride in it, but when does it become an issue where you can’t enjoy certain activities? I would make that self-reflective review even more often than that!

  10. I used to be a DREAMER, i could spend hours imagining stories, places I would go, and experiences I would live. I enjoyed every second of my dreaming, and the most amazing part was that my dreams felt true. Now it’s more difficult to dream like that because I often catch myself thinking “that would cost too much money” or ” How would I find 3 months to travel to Asia”. The good news is I have started to dream again in the past few months, little by little, and even though It is very difficult to shut the pessimistic “adult voice” it still feels AMAZING to dream!-)) Thanks for a great post Vincent!

    • Self-limiting beliefs is a very real issue, Alena. The most important part is realizing that there are steps you can take to reach that goal. It’s not easy, but it is definitely possible more often than not. There are such things which are impossible or improbable. It is important to distinguish between the two when dreaming.

      Your two thoughts you shared with me are most likely improbable and it will take a lot of work to do, but it’s certainly in the realm of possibility!

  11. Wow, this has put a totally different perspective on things for me… You’ve made me question whether I’ve even started to grow up – for everything you described that you were as a child I still possess to some extent. Okay I won’t go and play in the mud or flail my arms about running in a field, but I couldn’t give two sh*ts about how my hair looks when it’s windy – it feels epic! I’ll deal with it later, but the moment of fun and joy is all that I’m worried about.

    However, just because I don’t care about how my hair looks in wind, doesn’t mean I won’t do anything about it. In fact, I do style my hair, but if the wind comes along to give me a surprise then so be it.

    There’s a problem though, I can’t stay in a state of ‘childishness’ for long until somebody attempts to shoot me down by telling me to stop acting like an idiot. Society tries to kill this incredible state, so I can completely understand somebody being like that, maybe I’m a slight anomaly.

    Is it all fun and games? Not always, my own ideas get me all over the place, and recently on a cause for concern at college. I’ve kind of rid all the limiting beliefs that I see plagued around me, so I have no trouble in thinking about whatever superpowers or the possibilites of the future. A thing to note, though, I feel that it sometimes detracts form my ability to actually do, which is another barrier for procrastination. Luckily I do have the ability to get to some serious work, so ‘stop dreaming and start doing’ doesn’t apply.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post, Vincent, it got me thinking about, well, everything you described! I can only persevere to not lose my ability to dream, wonder and play, I just hope I won’t be forced to get rid of it. Great, great thoughts!

    • Very admirable, Nick! Everything was well said and you’re spot on. Society has a pretty funny way of crushing the childlike state, but I can’t help but smile when I see someone fully grown act silly. I like to think that many people release that side of themselves when behind closed doors!

  12. Vincent, you crack me up! “I didn’t care how my hair looked until last year!” Ah yes, reminiscing about the foggy past… I didn’t start asking these questions until I was *ahem* several years deeper into adulthood. You said you had no call to action but it is implied: tie on your cape, break out your Yu-Gi-Oh cards and remember who you have always been.

    • Hi, Kenneth! Good to see to see you here! I haven’t been doing the daily stare at the ceiling challenge as I hoped, but I haven’t completely forgotten about it either. 🙂

      As for those of you curious about what I’m talking about, I’ll fill you in. The ceiling challenge is basically this: you lie down on the floor and stare at the ceiling. Don’t do anything, don’t ponder on any problems, just lie down. Of course, you can have thoughts, but don’t engage them. Let them wander.

      For hard mode, add one minute to the amount of time you do this per day.

  13. Vincent,
    Great post. As a grandmother, I see through my grandsons’ eyes. On any day I can expect to hear Charlie tell me, “I’m 4 1/2 now.” And for him, the best age is the next one.

    I don’t know anyone who acts their age. But, I know people who act younger, or older. I’m sure it’s because inside, that’s how they feel.

    Personally, I had so many restraints on me as a child that I spent the rest of my life trying to break free from them.

    I learned to use my imagination to help me escape my fears. When would he get angry again?

    Maslow said safety is our essential foundation and all the other layers pile on top. But now, it’s like the scared little girl inside of me has learned to come out and play. And when the boys come over, we have fun.

    I smiled when I pictured you with your homemade cape running around freely. Those memories are filed away in your mind, Vincent. And you will get to visit them again and again.

    • That superhero running in the wind is still very much me, Anne. However, it is only when I am alone or when I am with my closest friends. I wouldn’t dare do that around people I’m not close with. Of course, that’s considered “normal” to fear the judgment of others. However, I wish that weren’t the case.

  14. Vincent, I have been an adult for a really long time, but there is still an eight year old living inside of me! And I never know when she will come out, hopefully not at a funeral or graduation ceremony.

    • I was telling Anne earlier about how I’m still like my old self but only under certain conditions. Hopefully I won’t have that come out during a funeral or graduation ceremony either. 🙂

  15. As old as I am, I still love to pretend I’m a kite in the wind. I stand with my arms out and throw my head back, then I run. Of course, the winds where I am aren’t as bad as those you describe.

    I’d like to know where the crossing point came from childhood and freshness to the adult state of dull, too. I’ve been reading The Icarus Deception. It made me realize how much our industrial society has shaped us, individually. It really has stripped us of who we were meant to be.

    You’re young. You have time to recapture the little that’s been lost. My time is short. Maybe that’s why I’m running into the wind.

    • I definitely do try to recapture those feelings and I believe I do a much better job than most. Running in the wind is something I hope to be doing forever because what fun is there if you can’t even enjoy the wind?

  16. Very interesting and insightful article! I felt the same when I was growing up. Now things changed but not really for bad. The life is just different, more responsibilities but also more new opportunities and you are free to do anything you want with your life. Thanks for your wonderful article!

  17. Hey Vincent, I smiled all the way through this post. As a child my mind was free from responsibilities about anything; except my grades, my impression of others was untainted. Growing up automatically increased my responsibilities, and how I communicate and act with others. However, I still allow myself to be child-like by being goofy and eating foods that transport me back in time to those memorable fun years.

    • Ha! Even grades had nothing on me! 🙂 Maybe because I had a bit of disdain for authority back then. I always LOVED the person behind the teacher, aka, the teacher themselves. It’s just the authority part that irked me so naturally grades meant nothing too.

      That’s great to hear you still allow yourself to be goofy. Keep the cape forever!

  18. Vincent,

    Growing up, to a large extend, has slowly made me behave just like everyone else. You know: go to the “right” school, get the “right” job, dress the “right” way, talk the “right” way etc.

    It’s almost like society wants everyone to fit a certain mold. If you don’t fit, then you don’t belong. And nobody wants that! Just like you’ve said, we eventually grow to fear others’ judgment as a result.

    If we are content with doing, saying, and thinking whatever we’ve been told to do while growing up, then I guess that’s OK. But I for one am NOT content with living according to others’ judgment anymore.

    And that mere thought has just made me happier. =)

    • Hi Ivan,

      Those are all very good examples you bring up. The way I like to do it is use those “rules” more like guidelines or suggestions then modify it to either make it better or figure out if it’s really needed. Blindly following set paths just seems silly because it’s not going to be genuine.

      Keep living life with these suggestions because they’re impossible to avoid. It’ll be up to you whether or not you follow them strictly though. Suggestions are okay, requirements are not.

  19. “It takes a long time to grow young.” ~Pablo Picasso
    Vincent, I’ve loved so much the image of you and your friends running in the wind with your capes and your chaotic hair. It’s so funny and such an illustration of carefree and imaginative childhood. The reminder to move to Japan is also so funny and cute!
    I can feel, reading you, that you still have a lot of your inner-child in you, am I wrong? I hope you don’t lose it! I certainly haven’t, many of us can’t seem to leave the playfulness behind as growing up; what’s the point of all the hard work if then we can’t enjoy running carefree in the wind? 😉

    • I certainly do have that inner-child and many of my friends can agree that I’m just incredibly giddy at times for no reason! The only issue is that sometimes that side of me gets lost during the day-to-day activities. Sure, there’s a place and time for all of that, but then there are still times I can use that side. But it’s not exactly under my control just yet!

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