Space invading, dancing and singing kids in waiting rooms tend to annoy me. Recently, I had the the (dis)pleasure of witnessing someone’s child imagine he was auditioning for America’s Got Talent all over a waiting room I was sitting in. I know other “grown-ups” were annoyed too because I could see the frustration on their faces as this kid did his best spastic ballerina with no depth perception impersonation all over us.
His mother’s attempts to put an end to this performance- “Stop or we are leaving…” “Calm down or we are not going to Chuck E. Cheese’s…” “Relax or I am leaving here without you!” -all proved futile.
The kid was a self proclaimed star and the show had to go on at all costs… Even if it meant abandonment and a life on the streets!
I have to admit, a smile cracked on my face as I realized that I kind of liked this kid’s defiance. I mean, who is more annoying, the adults who have come to expect highly regulated, socially acceptable behaviors, or the kid who is acting uninhibited with little regard for the judgement of others? Really though, how easily are we offended and unsettled by relatively benign, free-spirited behavior?
Couldn’t we adults use a bit more of this “devil may care” attitude? The kind that made some parts of being a kid more free.
Now Gatekeepers surround us and whether we want to admit it or not, we are often Gatekeepers ourselves.
What exactly are Gatekeepers?
They are defenders of the status-quo. The ones who say you must do something a certain way because that’s what has always been done. They are the defenders of unexamined acceptance and adherers to widely accepted expectations for how you should live. They are the suppressors of anyone or anything that is threatening or different.
How will Gatekeepers influence the dancing kid in the waiting room?
Well, it probably won’t be long before this kid’s spirit will be slowly crushed and his creativity and spontaneity silenced in favor of more regimented behavior. He will attend schools that cut back on recess and art programs in favor of teachings directly correlated to “making it” in the American workplace. His creative interests will be relegated to part-time “hobbies.” He will become very knowledgeable and successful by conventional standards. Meaning, he will be able to accurately memorize and regurgitate facts, figures, behaviors and opinions deemed by others as important. The more accurate, the more “successful” he will become and he can convert this success into earning more money. This capital can then be used to purchase possessions that people say are supposed to make him happy.
He will eventually plan out his life around retirement and sound financial investments. Then he will dedicate the most healthy and youthful years of his life to a workplace predicated upon building someone else’s pyramid. Someday he will hear a whisper saying there must be more to life than this. His indoctrination and the circling Gatekeepers will quickly squash this sentiment in favor of “reason.”
We adults might want to stop building other’s pyramids or change something in our lives, but the voice of our inner outlaw, clawing to get out, sounds completely ridiculous. We believe it is dangerous and not credible, and it’s no wonder. Think of how long we have been asked to silence it. But this illusion keeps us from doing and saying the things we need to make our lives, and others better. Acknowledge where the Gatekeepers reside in your life and challenge them…time is ticking.
Be aware that when you challenge the Gatekeepers, you will be perceived like the annoying, dancing kid in the waiting room where all of the adults just want peace and quiet. You threaten their fictitious equilibrium and remind them of the life they have been fearful to embrace. They will want to criticize you and remind you of the rules. The biggest obstacle will be to embrace the attitude of the kid in the waiting room and simply not listen.