I was a pretty cautious kid.
I didn’t want to make mistakes, disappoint anyone or regret a decision. I prided myself on being the “good girl” and remember the sting of doing the wrong thing at school or with my friends.
I distinctly remember crying at night for at least a week because I decided I didn’t want to do gymnastics anymore and was terrified mum and dad would be upset.
As a kid, I loved nothing more than getting a new pack of stickers. Big, round ones. Tiny, shiny star-shaped ones. Love heart ones. So pretty. So brightly coloured. So…finite.
Once a sticker was peeled off the backing sheet, stuck on the page and admired for a moment, it was done. And I’m sad to say that once they were no longer usable, the enjoyment dissipated.
Photo by Brooke McAlary
Do you know what happened to the vast majority of my stickers?
I left them on their backing paper and tucked them away somewhere safe. Saved them for a special occasion or a project worth using them.
And guess what?
I never used them.
It didn’t matter how pretty or rare or shiny or sweet they were. I was scared to use them because, well, they’d be used up.
(And, as every sticker aficionado knows, trying to prolong the usefulness of a particularly delightful sticker by peeling it off the page and re-sticking it means you’ll just be left with a ripped page and a useless sticker. Trust me on this.)
When I was older and
being forced by my mum choosing responsibly to tidy up and declutter my bedroom, I found boxes and boxes of these abandoned stickers and admired them once more. But I thought the time to use them had passed. I was a grungy teenager. I was into Smashing Pumpkins, op-shopping and basketball. (An enigma is what I was.) Sweet, shiny stickers had no place in my life.
The opportunity to experience the joy and beauty and creativity of using them had passed me by.
Don’t let this happen to you.
Don’t discover too late that you had something of joy and beauty at your fingertips, only to let it slip by, too afraid to “use it all up” or break it.
Even if the joy of using something precious is a fleeting one, don’t you think that fleeting joy or momentary beauty is better than none at all? Using a pretty batch of stickers to make a gift for a friend would have been better than letting them sit, unseen, in a box for years.
If you keep one thing in mind today, it’s this:
Don’t save your stickers.
Use them up. Whenever the mood strikes. With wild abandon and stunning regularity if possible.
Enjoy the rush. Embrace the feeling of living in the moment. And so what if they get used up?
It’s a well-covered cliche, but important enough to state again, particularly to my own cautious inner-child:
- Use the “good” china. So what if it gets chipped? It’s being used. That’s what it’s for.
- Drink your cheap wine from the gorgeous glasses you received as a wedding gift – otherwise they just gather dust.
- That perfect-coloured lipstick? Put it on! You will look beautiful, even if you’re in your pyjamas.
- Let your kids create freely. Isn’t the paint and glue and glitter there to be used?
- Wear your fancy perfume – even if only to playgroup.
- Jump in muddy puddles. And stop pretending you don’t enjoy it. And the laundry? It will need doing anyway.
Stop saving your stickers.
Otherwise you may just rediscover them, only to realise the time to use them has passed.