This is me as a happy, confident, energetic kid. When I look at these pictures and reflect on my childhood, I think about the endless summer fun of riding bikes, playing outside until dark, crafting/drawing and even performing made-up shows on our neighbor’s large front porch. I was very fortunate to have had a lot of this unstructured play growing up.
Unstructured play allows for interests to shine. It fostered my love of art, problem-solving and creativity.
When I asked my mom what I was like as a child, one of the ways she described me was that I was not-so-much the “color in the lines” kind of kid but more the “this coloring page needs a sun, so I’m going to add a sun” kind of kid. Confidently creative.
Like most people as they get older, I became more self-aware and would question this confidence in creativity.
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”
I continued on and earned a BFA in Visual Communication Design / Illustration and went on to work art-related jobs in this field.
I have learned that there will always be opinions. There will always be people that can bring you down. Imposter syndrome is real and it will make you question your passion. But when I stop and look at these photos of myself as a child, I try to tap into that confidence, curiosity and uninhibited spirit I had: the one that was allowed to think for herself and problem solve; the one who would keep playing until completely exhausted; the one who would sing in front of people on a front porch without second guessing herself; the one that needed to draw something extra on an already well-designed coloring page and the one that enjoyed playing without realizing it was really shaping who she would become.
Unstructured play is on the decline these days but if we can give children opportunities for safe open-ended play, they too will be finding their passions and developing character traits that will make them successful in the future.