I feel my imagination getting weaker

I look at the journals I used to write endless stories in, untouched. I see the stuffed animals whose personalities I know so well, but haven’t come out in so long. The corner of my room that used to be a stage for my one-woman musicals is now just the corner of my room. Part of me is yearning to use that kind of imagination again. I’ve convinced myself it would be easy since it was only a few years ago I was using my imagination to transform the world to my liking. But I don’t. I tell myself it’s because I’m an adult now and have different responsibilities, but I know the truth is that I have forgotten how.

I think of imagination like a muscle; it only stays strong when it’s stretched. Unfortunately for mine, I think it’s been a long time since it has properly gone to the gym. While I think it’s natural for a vivid child-like imagination to dilute over time, being in your young adult years is strange for this realization. It feels like it was only yesterday that you could look outside and turn night into day with a blink. You hold the instruction manual in your hands and you feel the familiarity of it all, but it’s been longer than you think it has. Thoughts of college, financial responsibilities, relationships, car maintenance, weekend plans, tragic world news and TikTok trends have taken up the capacity of your brain for a few years. You’re not purposefully ignoring your imagination, but you’re still young enough to feel its active deterioration.

However, hope is not completely lost. I am pleased to share that I actually do use my imagination on a daily basis. I am constantly imagining worst case scenarios. I can clearly envision ten years from now when I’m living in a shack eating little pieces of bread and porridge because I went into student debt while trying to pursue a very studious career in musical theater. These figments of my imagination may occur because of anxiety, because I had a literal nightmare come true when I lost a parent at 16, and simply because I’m growing up. No matter what the explanation is, I much prefer when “imagination” meant picking which overly-elaborate superpower I would have on the playground during recess.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to recreate how magical the world felt ten years ago, but I’m trying to get better at accepting that fact. It doesn’t have to be as solemn as it seems. Now, I’ll push myself to see the flexibility of what imagination can mean while growing up. I’ll imagine I’m the most confident person on campus when I try to socialize for the first time in college. I’ll still allow the characters to come to life in front of my eyes when I read a fictional book. I’ll get to play pretend for my career as an aspiring actress. Maybe sometimes I’ll still convince myself that my dog is telepathically trying to speak to me.

It’s likely that the older I get, the less I’ll feel the loss of my child-like imagination. However, I recognize that there’s so much to appreciate when it comes to the beauty of a matured mind. Still, I think I’ll always be a little afraid of the monsters in the dark.