On preserving childhood curiosity
Lulu Calame, Contributor
The greatest tragedy that comes with adulthood is that it is no longer acceptable to be freely curious.
I grew up on a small island on the eastern tip of Maine, and my greatest victories lay in the discovery of a washed-up buoy or the bobbing purple head of a lion jellyfish under the downtown fishing pier. These discoveries were to no end but my own excitement, and I never wished them to be anything more.
But with growing up comes an awful social expectation that the world’s mystery should melt away and be replaced with a logical curiosity in only the things that hold productive value. Whether that be a degree, a career, or a salary—curiosity is no longer serendipitous, but mechanized. It is no longer appropriate to be curious with justification of its productivity––and this product is never just whimsical pleasure.
I often wonder, being only on the edge of adulthood, when I might cease to find a frozen puddle worth stopping for. I am already saddened that I no longer jump inside an elevator to see if my head will hit the ceiling, or that I have stopped running outside in the morning to test whether last night’s snowfall is powder or packable—always hoping for the latter, because every sledding hill needs a jump. I am sure that my eight-year-old self, for whom there was nothing more important than such explorations, would be shocked at the indifference ten years have brought; and I am scared further still for what ten more years might take.
Such unabashed curiosity requires a vulnerability that adults have sadly been trained to avoid, but which should be preserved at all costs; it honors the unpredictable, the odd, and the subtly beautiful. It makes me sad that an adult’s destination is such an imposition that they no longer stop to watch an ant carry a twig twice its size down the sidewalk.
Allowing oneself to be freely curious, and, for even ten seconds, to commit one’s thoughts wholly and unapologetically to something as small as an ant, holds an importance that the grown-up world has forgotten.
Curiouser and curiouser: Dogs, dildos and discovery
Jayda Smith, Staff Writer
I need to do something more interesting than just studying before I die. A jarring thought that might lead some to hop on a plane to Europe and others to start training for a marathon, but one that led me to attend animal therapy in the Healthy Living Annex of the Brown Building––the beginning of a series of curiosity-led escapades.
Animal therapy is where I met Bau. Bau is an adorable Bichon who skillfully performs his duties as a therapy dog. I laughed as Bau executed various athletic manoeuvres; he sat, laid down and danced bipedally. Animal therapy wasn’t the only engaging thing the Annex offered. Across from where I sat was a store called The Shag Shop.
It sells affordable and inclusive sexual health products, including, but not limited to, menstrual cups and adult toys. Shame had stifled my curiosity and prevented me from visiting before, but now that I was only a few feet away, I couldn’t pass on the opportunity. Somewhere between nervousness and indecision, I found her. The Double Dancer: A purple toy that boasts three speeds of increasing vibration and “dual flickering teasers” (whatever that means). I tried not to look too embarrassed as I cashed out and hurriedly stuffed the device into my backpack. It was my first time buying such a toy, but embarrassment was a small price to pay for a new experience. Needing one last adventure to end the day, I took a trip to the farmer’s market in the SSMU building. My most remarkable find was a book: “Anansi the Spider: A Tale from the Ashanti.”
This tale featured a famous trickster spider from Ashanti folklore. Though the tale originates from West Africa, I know Anansi intimately. In Belize, my home country, we learn of Anansi’s hijinks around the same time we learn our multiplication tables. It touched me that culture was strong enough to have preserved Anansi across thousands of miles, depositing him safely from West Africa to Belize.
From just one day of exploring my curiosities, I found therapy dogs, sex toys, and home, all on one campus. What else might I find if I ask more questions? Exploring my curiosities turned into self-care and self-discovery, and it all started with a dog.
Changing majors and career paths
Sophia Micomonaco, Contributor
Last week, I attended a conference on campus for women students interested in finance. As someone who considers changing majors weekly, the thought of choosing a career is one of my biggest sources of anxiety. I signed up for the conference wondering if finance could be my new calling.
I would consider myself a “big-picture person,” partly because of this anxiety. I view every possibility as if it will affect me in fifty years’ time. I judge new ideas intensely and make a plan for outcomes A, B, and C (with subsections). In the past I have decided on plans and then strongly stuck to them, like when I thought that I was going to major in philosophy. I signed up for philosophy courses and realized that I didn’t really like them, but I stuck it out because I was fearful of losing the path I had temporarily chosen. When these courses didn’t go as well as I had hoped, I tried again with more subjects, repeating this cycle of confusion and dissatisfaction in the pursuit of the “perfect” subject area for me.
The conference featured successful women in finance as its speakers, some who did not hold finance degrees––just like me. Participants asked a range of questions and many of the speakers unknowingly provided very similar answers. When asked what they were looking for in an internship candidate, the most common response was “curiosity.” A lot of the women said that it was okay to change careers, and that one’s past decisions wouldn’t be a waste. If you were curious about something, even if it ended up being the wrong fit for you, at least you tried.
This provided me with a lot of reassurance, because my attempts to plan for one kind of career were dwindling. The week before the finance conference I was planning for my career in public relations… or mediation… or both. I don’t know if I’m going to work in finance, but now I at least know that I’m interested as I am with so many other things. This time, I’m going to accept that I don’t have a plan yet—because it’s better to be curious than resistant.