Childhood holds a peculiar time in our lives.
At the tender age of five to 10, we are impressionable, curious and open to learn new and innovative information. As teenagers we are often stubborn and passionate, as we slowly form the identities that will define our adulthood.
It is only when we take that final step into adulthood that some of our firmest beliefs from our teenage years are finally shaken.
And then that's it.
As adults, we hold onto firm beliefs that we have come to accept as truth, either from experience or due to a strong faith in those who taught us the belief.
And boy, do we hold tightly.
Unlike our younger selves, we are less likely to learn anything new if it seems to go against a belief that we radically hold onto as unequivitable and correct.
According to the academic article “When children are better (or at least more open-minded)
learners than adults: Developmental differences in learning the forms of causal relationships” by Christopher G. Lucas and others, “children learn and generalize more readily than adults.”
To put it simply, children are just more open-minded.
This is not exceptionally breaking news to the average adult, but it can be seen as both negative and positive at once. A child is praised for their ability to learn and sympathized with for their naivety.
A child or a teenager can ask why.
However, rather than answer it straightforwardly, an adult may just as equally shake their head and tell the child that they are too naive to understand how the world works.
This, oddly enough, may be what cultivates an adult’s closed-mindedness — because no one wants to be naive.
But the truth is, being naive is not the worst thing one can be.
When I was a teenager, I was moved from my home state of Wisconsin to New Mexico and thrown into a whole different world in one swoop. Nothing between the two states seemed similar — not the culture, the people or the landscape.
This disassociation from my home state created a very rose-colored view of my childhood environment, one that covered most of the flaws. One flaw that I refused to believe was that racism was not just alive in Wisconsin, but quite powerful.
I am the child of two parents with two different ethnicities. My father is white and my mother is Hispanic. I remember my mother telling me about the racism she experienced in Wisconsin. As a teenager and into young adulthood, I vehemently believed she was wrong. My mind threw out different scenarios in how she could be wrong, and I held onto every one of them.
Eventually I moved back to Wisconsin for nearly a year, and that year made me come to one conclusion — she was right and I was wrong.
This is not to say every Wisconsinite is racist or that there were not beautiful things to be found in my home state. It is not even to say that my memories of my childhood were wrong.
It is simply that I could only view them through my eyes and not those of my mother.
After coming back to New Mexico, the state changed in my eyes. Nothing had physically changed of course, but perhaps I looked a little harder at things I overlooked and appreciated them all the more.
My father is white and my mother is Hispanic and, to put it frankly, I took after my father. I will never experience the racism directed toward my mother. What I did experience was the nonchalant way in which it was spoken about, combined with my own unbridled rage in defense of my mother.
Being proven wrong was one of the best things that has ever happened to me.
It opened up my world view just a bit, and like a child, I applied the new knowledge to my surroundings. I broke down my walls and was able to see what truly made my childhood beautiful and what parts did not.
What is confusing about the transition from childhood to adulthood is this constant, almost blinding disgust we begin to have against naivety — as if when we hit a certain age we may one day be rid of all things that once made us ignorant.
The truth is, we, as individuals, will always carry different forms of naivety.
And there is not a single thing wrong with that.
As stubborn as people may be over their own preconceived beliefs, there may just be something healthy about discovering those beliefs are not always the right ones to have.
But hey, maybe I’m incorrect.
If that’s the case, then I’m all ears.
Prove me wrong.
Nichole Harwood is the culture editor for the Daily Lobo. She primarily covers alumni and art features. The views presented in this column are her own. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Nolidoli1.