Growing up is probably the worst thing ever. Bills, car insurance, mortgage, car tags, responsibility. All those things are the antithesis of fun and merriment. What’s the adage, “when I was a child, I thought as a child, I spoke as a child, and acted as a child, but when I became a man I put childish things away.” I am here to argue that those memories you have from a more innocent time need to be put away, yes, but need not be thrown away. There are somethings that you should keep reminding yourself who you were, and who you are becoming. Holding on to a few items from your childhood goes a lot further than you might think.
That Stuffed Animal
Every kid had one. I don’t mean that they only had one stuffed animal, but that they had that one that meant more than the others. That one who came with you on adventures, who you made mud pies with, who was there when you cried, and laughed when you were happy. For me, it was this old rag doll lion that my mom got me when I was three years old. This toy may not be much to look at, but it is exactly the sort of thing you should keep with you.
Who doesn’t remember their school crushes? Rivals in sports, academia, or for the girl’s attention? What about those friends that you tore up the city with? Those memories are precious, and they are few. While you may never need or want to think about the embarrassing clothes you wore, or the stupid rom-com style gestures you did to win the girl, there are still moments that are worth saving. Signatures and messages that might someday make all the difference.
I was never much of an artist, but my parents saved each one of my drawings. They served as a window into who I was at that moment, what I was going through and what I was thinking. They aren’t good, I would never proudly display them or show them off, but I do leaf through them from time to time. There is something reassuring about a physical sign that this too shall pass.
I have a handful of papers that I wrote from high school through graduate school that are important to me. I keep them, not because they are excellent papers that go above and beyond what I thought myself capable of. I keep them because of comments from my teachers. Words of recognition, of encouragement, goading to do better. I look at them, from time to time, and remember how much that meant to me. How big an impact this single assignment, this word of encouragement meant. How whether they knew it or not their words made all the difference in the world.
My grandma was quite the seamstress, she made clothes and costumes for all her grandchildren. She made the suit I wore to my graduation, she made the costume I wore for a first-grade play. I might never wear these things again, but I would die before throwing them away. She put her heart into these things, and they mean as much to me as she did before she passed. I hope, someday, to pass them on to my kids, so I might feel a small twinge of pride when they struggle to say why they should eat apples in a school play, or lie about when they will be home from the dance.
Being an adult is hard, it is probably the hardest thing that life can offer, and that is exactly why you need to hold on to the good times. You need to hold on to memories of when life was easier; when your heart was broken and you were sure it would never get better; when one teacher set you on the path that you were on; when your mom drove half-way across the country to walk you to your first day of school. These memories are small, they are fragile, but they mean so much more than anything else. Hold on to them and the things that remind you of them.
Finding space for these sorts of things is hard, I strongly recommend a storage solution to keep all your belongings safe. Check in on them from time to time, spring for a climate controlled unit to keep your items in the best possible shape. Care for them so you can pass them on.