We realise that innocence is lost the moment we grow up and discover that it has been replaced by trauma from our past experiences.
The beauty of innocence. One of the only things in life that are primal in our days of youth and ignorance rather than the better half of things in life that blossom with us as we age. We associate innocence with being carefree, with ignorance and bliss, and a sense of childish naivety that doesn’t shield us from the dangers that cause us anxiety and grief.
Innocence and youth, although not hand-in-hand directly related, are often closely associated with each other because the younger we are, the more shielded we are from the atrocities of life. We are fresh to the world, unaware of how ugly the cards can be when dealt with cruel hands or how bitter the taste of life’s notorious lemons truly are. We see an abundance of innocence in the youth because they have not lived long enough to witness these harsh truths. Life has not handed them enough experiences to rob them of this precious innocence.
With each of life’s unpleasant experiences and moments, carries a scar in our memory that enables us to be more cautious next time we come across a similar situation. This is our body and mind’s defense mechanism to protect us from bearing the same pain over and over again. Remember the last time you sipped freshly brewed coffee and burnt your tongue so intensely that it failed to enjoy the taste of any flavour for the latter half of the day? And the next time you wanted to drink a freshly brewed coffee, you became more wary of how hot the liquid was and instead of diving lips first into the drink, you tentatively tasted it a few times to ensure it was the right temperature?
This is exactly what happens when we go through life – our experiences create memories in our brain in a way that wires us to be more cautious next time we encounter such a scenario. It’s our brain’s way of protecting itself – of telling us that it’s been hurt and it doesn’t want to go through that pain again. It’s a preventative measure which ultimately holds us back from experiencing things in life to its full potential – and that is how fear begins to hold us back from the things we truly want to do.
Whilst innocence is precious, perhaps it is not innocence that we yearn for but youthfulness, because the younger you are the more carefree you are about everything in life. Youth embodies freedom and carelessness that is fuelled by naivety – we didn’t know any better, therefore we are already better. We don’t need to second-guess anything or have doubts whenever uncertainty crosses our mind. Have you ever wondered why children just dive heard first into things and have the best time of their lives discovering the world, whilst adults attempt to rule out all possible scenarios that could go wrong and all the future repercussions that could possibly happen, before coming to an almost-solution?
As we grow older, we become creatures living in fear of our past experiences. We let the pain of what has happened to us become traumas, carrying the past warnings into our present and onto the future. We let innocence escape us from the accumulation of our experiences, and it becomes one of life’s many double edged swords. How can we truly live and find the beauty of life without going through these experiences, but how can we truly live to our fullest without losing our innocence and being held back by what has hurt us?
Perhaps innocence was always meant to be lost – much like training wheels that aid us in fearlessly grasping the introductory ropes in life before finding our balance. Perhaps the loss of innocence is what it truly means to be coming of age – that the loss of something so precious is in fact the key to finding ourselves. And in order to come a full circle, we can preserve the feeling of being carefree amidst a fearless mindset by being youthful at heart – by having an abundance of curiosity and energy to seek, discover and experience everything in life without letting the past traumas dictate our current behaviour.