May 2, 2012

Playing Pretend

By Andrew at 1:35 PM

As children, we participated in many activities intended to prepare us for our adult life.  This was made even more evident to me recently as I noticed that I have started to become even more involved in activities that I was a part of when I was younger.  Previously, community involvement seemed to be something that I participated in merely for the social involvement.  However, I have recently witnessed my progression from trivial involvement to a more meaningful participation in community activities.

Children enjoy activities from an early age where they are able to “play house” and otherwise “pretend” into existence their perception of what it is that adults do on a daily basis.  That is why “practical” toys still share a shelf with arguably more “exciting” toys such as robots, princesses, and unicorns.  Toy kitchens and miniature workshops have held the attention of many a child, even when the choice of a more fantastical form of playtime is available.  Both realistic and imaginative play are valuable in the formative years, yet play based upon a counterpart in the grown-up world becomes especially reinforced as it is repeated throughout life.

Moving into the school years, especially when approaching late-elementary to early middle-school, we became more involved in organized activities such as music, sports, clubs, and charities.  Many of these collaborations translate directly into activities that are a part of adult community involvement.  The particular change from childhood to the school years becomes more about the leadership and personal interest in perpetuating the organization or activity that they are a part of.  This interest permits them to become a larger part of the organization’s activities, possibly inspiring them to create their own organizations or endeavors. The real key to taking advantage of developmental opportunities, though, is making use of collegiate communities.  While earlier opportunities involve adults in defining leadership roles, college groups are oftentimes spearheaded almost entirely by fellow students.  The responsibility and trust put in leaders of these clubs displays a confidence in the ability of students to manage and participate in self-contained organizations.  Yet in case there would be issues, faculty members are nearby if the focus of the group were to stray.

While I am by no means an expert in community groups, I definitely feel prepared for the opportunities that I have had so far.  Realizing the other day how much I had missed volunteer work made me think about the other activities that I had previously participated in and their real-world equivalents.  For example, while I do not have any plans to run for office, I would not rule out a reprise of my student government role in the public forum in the future.  Similarly, I would eagerly await an opportunity to participate in or even organize a film or technology club.  Yet even something as simple as contributing a couple of hours of work over a weekend to help out with community projects can be a huge benefit not only to those being helped, but to me as well.  Volunteering is just one of the many “adult” endeavors that I learned as a child from playing pretend.

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