Hold Onto Your Inner Child : Jacqueline Emerson at TEDxOrangeCoast

Hold Onto Your Inner Child : Jacqueline Emerson at TEDxOrangeCoast

Translator: Noel Diaz
Reviewer: Mirjana Čutura When I was 10, all I wanted to be was 11. When I was 11, all I wanted to be was 13. What is it about being older that appeals to us so much
when we’re young? I think that it’s the supposed freedom
that comes with age. When you’re an adult,
you can do whatever you want. You control your own life, right? Well, maybe not so much. I remember always hearing adults tell me, “Oh, enjoy your youth.
It’s not going to last!” But I never really
understood what it meant. I mean, I always thought
it would be so cool to be old. A source of pride, like, “Guess what? I’ve lived 68 years.” Then, when I was an early teen, I finally began to get
what it was they were telling me, and I made an active decision: I was not going to be one of those adults that wish they had lived and appreciated
their childhood to the fullest. I was going to do that right here and now. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds. You know in the movies where a girl sits alone
in a bathroom stall, eating her lunch
because she has no friends? That was me. When I was in seventh grade, my best friend of six years
and I split paths and – I’m not going to lie – it was a really hard time for me. I couldn’t figure out what I’d done wrong, because I knew it was my fault. And it wasn’t until a lot later that I realized
the truth was a lot simpler than anything my mind could concoct. She wanted to grow up. I wanted to stay a kid. It wasn’t about maturity; we were all growing up and maturing. It was more than that. And I started to think about why so many kids in high school
associate maturity with how old you seem. I realized I was just
as mature as they were, but I would rather have fun
without partying and wearing copious amounts of make up
and dressing 10 years above my age. I mean, I like to watch Disney Channel and have massive sleepovers
with High School Musical sing-alongs, things most kids give up
because they want to seem older. And while they were all out
partying and acting like adults, I really dove into my creative arts. Through that, I came
into a whole new realm of thinking, and I made friends that are my deepest friends to this day. See, I’m happy. I’m never bored. Every place I go, I find something
to entertain myself with. My sisters and I will build
sand castles at the beach and look for shapes in the clouds
and play hide-and-go-seek. I think I might be
the only person in the world that actually likes
getting stuck in traffic. Turn up the radio, and it turns into a whole singing
and dancing party in my car. I also love going to galas
and political events and having conversations
about the state of environment or the economy. But I don’t have to give up
one for the other. And the thing is, what I realized
about these various childish activities is that they’re all about constantly
looking, discovering, and imagining. I mean, I spent an hour and a half
playing chipmunks with my four-year-old
cousin the other day. Chipmunks. This involved crawling
around on the floor and speaking in a squeaky voice
and eating imaginary nuts and just kind of running around the house. I felt like an idiot. I spent the first 10 minutes going, “What am I doing? Oh, my God, I’m 18! I’m crawling around on the floor
with this four-year-old. What is wrong with me?” And then I had an epiphany. I was the odd one out.
I mean, she was having a blast. What was stopping me
from having the same fun she was? How was it she was able to conjure up
an entire imaginary chipmunk world in 10 seconds? Well, it took me 10 minutes
to even start to get into it. I was standing in my own way. I had to stop judging myself before I could even begin
to have fun in this game. You know, as we get older, not only do we judge ourselves more,
but we start judging others as well. With the heightened use of the Internet, these snap judgments we make of others
are made public and known. I recently experienced this firsthand. My senior prom was last May,
and I went to an all-girls school, so my friends and I all decided
we would ask each other out. No boys allowed. We bought each other corsages. We danced together. We took pictures together,
had a massive sleepover afterwards. It was a blast. Early on in the night, I posted a photo
of one of my best friends and me taking a stereotypical
“awkward prom picture.” You know, where one person
stands behind the other, and they kind of smile
awkwardly at the camera. Immediately following, multiple people commented on Instagram,
calling me a lesbian. What shocked me about this
was the rapidity with which it happened. Why was it that people would look
at a photo of two girls hugging and immediately think “gay”? Now, I want to clarify
that this did not offend me in the least. I actually thought it was funny
and rather interesting that this was where
people’s minds had gone. They couldn’t see the photo
for what it was: two girls having fun. They needed a label. They needed to judge it. Sadly, little comments like this
on different social media sites can lead to cyberbullying, which, in turn, can lead
to tragic consequences. As we grow older, our basic judgments become judgmental. We close off our imaginations. As a kid, there’s none of that. And not only do we judge things
as mature or juvenile, but we label everything
and put it all into boxes. I recently watched a fascinating lecture
by Sir Ken Robinson, and he said something
that really interested me. He said, “When people are asked how many different uses
there are for a paper clip, most might come up with 10 to 15. Somebody really good at this
might come up with 200. And that’s because they say, ‘Can a paper clip be 200 feet tall
and made out of rubber?'” This is an out-of-the-box answer. Something a child might say. See, children are completely
free in that sense. Their minds are boundless. My cousin’s chipmunk turns into a cat,
who runs over to a chair, which becomes a roller-coaster, and then: boom!
We’re in Candy Land. I mean, they don’t judge. They just do. And when fostered, this imagination can lead to invention, adventure, and innovation. I personally believe that all visionaries have not abandoned
this part of themselves, because it’s from there
that all creativity is born. They’re completely in touch
with their imagination, which is why they are able
to come up with ideas most of us never even would’ve considered. Innovation can come in many forms. And one of the greatest innovators
and inventors I know is my piano teacher
and songwriting partner, Adrian. When Adrian sits down to write a song, she doesn’t judge
anything she comes up with. She’ll put on a recording device
and sit at the piano and literally just plod
around for 10 to 15 minutes, singing whatever comes to her mind. And yes, some of it is ridiculous
and makes no sense, but that doesn’t matter. She doesn’t stop; she keeps going. And at the end, she’ll go back and listen
to that recording device, and maybe she’ll pull out
one or two sentences. Maybe she’ll pull out a word. But from that word,
she will write an amazing song. Because she is able to write
without judgment, she is open to any possibility. Now, of course, judgment is important every day
in making decisions, but being judgmental limits our ability
to have an open mind and view the world
with the sense of amazement. It stifles our inner child, which is imagination, creativity, loving each moment for what it is. And this is relevance. Look, I know growing up
brings more responsibilities. I’m only 18. I’ve never had to pay rent
or bought a house. I’ve never had a major health issue
or run a business. But I do know this: that each and everyone of us
has a childlike imagination and that the true key to innovation
is staying present, opening ourselves to constant discovery, fostering our creativity, and loving every minute of it. By viewing the world in a youthful way, we become independent spirits, and that is the first step
in defining our own relevance. Thank you. (Applause)

Danny Hutson

100 thoughts on “Hold Onto Your Inner Child : Jacqueline Emerson at TEDxOrangeCoast

  1. That was amazing!! I don't really know what to say that will do that speech justice. Jacqueline you are inspirational and will be very successful in whatever you choose to do. Thank you 🙂

  2. you're a very well-spoken public speaker. When i was younger i use to be deathly afraid of speaking in front of an audience. now i can do it (for the most part) without any problems. i havent done it in a while, but you make me want to get back out there and talk to people about things i care about!

  3. My friend is getting bullied, so I sent her this. Hope this will help ya. 🙂
    One a better note, OH MY GOODNESS SHE IS AMAZING. She is so emotional, well…It gets through to people. It helps people to get through things. It helps me realize, that you shouldn't let somebody stop you of what you want too do.

  4. She's such a good speaker it's a shame they gave her the nonspeaking role of Foxface in the Hunger Games. She was awesome at it though.

  5. Well said Jackie! You know, I think there is a child in all of us, at any age, that should be exercised regularly. Life is precious, and truly a gift, and we need to enjoy it to the full! Never stop building those sand castles either!

  6. Couldn't have said it better, Jackie! You're a truly talented songwriter, singer and actress. Never forget to embrace your talents and gifts.

  7. She is so inspiring….. This made me think and I realized how much her mind must run. Truthfully, I know how she feels.

  8. Everything she said is what I've been seeing happen to kids all around me, they try to be older in a way that's speeding up their life too fast. And then they go back and think why couldn't they have stayed a child, why did they want to grow up? They blame time. I'm growing up with them, and yes, I do long for the days where I didn't have to care as much. But what makes me different is how I've kept my childhood. They threw it away and now they're searching for it, but they can't find it.

  9. I love Jacqueline Emerson! She's a great singer, songwriter and actress and now a motivational speaker! I think she's great!

  10. Amazing- I feel the EXACT SAME WAY. I have felt this way forever and I am 25. I just wish I were as fortunate to find friends that feel the same way.

  11. With the zillions of people scrambling to get an acting gig, it seems quite the luxury to be able to put that down and go to school.

  12. This girl is absolutely amazing. I love this video. For once, we find a celebrity that isn't self-absorbed and is worth listening to and watching. She's definitely one of my role-models celebrity wise. She's a good person for teens like us to look up to.

  13. Jackie your incredible… Inspirational. What you said there is so true, so relevant. It really made me think. It's such an amazing talent to have. And if you're reading this I want you to know I agree with everything you said just there. It's kind of weird how many things in that speech I can relate to. You're brilliant and I'm your biggest fan! <3

  14. This girl makes me want to die. I hope Jennifer Lawrence nailed her right between the eyes in that movie.

  15. I want to go up to Jacqueline and hug her. I am her biggest fan, her optimistic outlook on life is infectious and I wish her all the best of luck in Stanford University.

  16. Everything she said means so much to me. I still have an inner child. I think people who let go of their childhood have no idea how much they lose. Thank u for this wonderful speech, Jackie. 🙂

  17. Jackie- You are truly inspiring. I admit, that I'm one of those people trying to grow up too fast. Being cool at my school? That means no more dolls, dress up, playing pretend, hide-n-seek, and even playing go fish or other card games seems to be considered childish. You inspire me and I've learned to let my inner 5 year old out. My friends and I like to joke around and just be weird.. But we've kind of been drifting apart because I don't do it much anymore. That's not worthy of being in the group of cool kids. I too, have younger cousins who line to play pretend. They're way too young to have read the hunger games (so they don't understand it), but they pretend like they're in them. Sometimes we're zoo animals that have escaped and sometimes we're princesses and knights. I always feel stupid and childish playing with them, but you've made me rethink. Now I don't feel weird doing it. Thank you for being so inspiring and teaching us all about never growing up. And for those of you that enjoyed this- search up 'Peter Pan' by Jacqueline Emerson. You'll really enjoy it. 🙂

  18. I am in college and something has felt off ever since I started college.  In high school I was able to draw upon ideas from a mind many called childish so I abandoned that way of thought just because I was older.  Everything then felt wrong and I didn't feel like myself.  This was much needed.  Just because I am now an adult in society there is no reason I have to stop fearing how others feel about my way of thought while I can still approach things as an adult through child's eyes.  Liie I said this was much needed.  Thank you for what you do.

  19. People lose their inner child because society surpresses them and forces them to act a certain way and lose individualality. People need to wake up and keep there inner child. I'm 12 and I'm like Jacqueline.

  20. I was quick to notice that she wasn't wearing a bra however her enthusiasm for what she spoke upon intrigued me greatly.

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