Finding Simple Pleasures While Reconnecting With My Early 2000s Childhood

I was born in 1999, so my childhood took place in the cringe-worthy, but beloved, early 2000s. This was a time that I look back on with laughter and warmth, though it was full of a number of fashion mistakes. It was also a time that was simpler for me and, in the midst of this pandemic, missed. This pandemic has everyone stuck at home and, many, with their families. In many ways, this has taken to my childhood. When I did not have a car to go places, it took forever to set up “friend hangouts” with a doable parent carpool system, and I had no job to pay me money, so being at home would oftentimes be the best option. So, in an effort to make the most out of being stuck at home today and to reconnect with the simpler joys of my childhood, I have decided to revisit many of things that I did for fun when I was a kid in the early 2000s. Here are some of the ways I have been doing that and how it has been the source of my smile these past few weeks:

  1. 1. Heelys and Other Fun "Toys"

    What started my journey back to my childhood was my purchase of Heelys. If you are unfamiliar with these iconic rolling shoes that are not skates (because they are better), then shame on you. They are essentially children's shoes with removable wheels at the bottom of the heels that allow you to roll into any conversation with style. I absolutely loved my Heelys when I was little, and a memory of them just popped up into my head about two weeks ago. Immediately, like when I randomly remember someone from high school and wonder where they are now, I looked them up. Amazingly, I found some cute ones in my size, thought “what the heck, I need something to do while I am stuck at home” and bought them. I did not expect this to be such a great choice this was until they came in the mail and I put them on for the first time in years. I was instantly happy and I became happier when I saw how excited my parents were as they remembered me in 2nd grade rolling around outside of Olive Garden, saying “look at me". I also realized that, even then, I was really bad at using my Heelys. This just made it even more fun now as I went through the whole process of learning how to ride them again with my brother pulling me on his skateboard. Not only was it a good memory that I could bring to my family, but it reminded me of the simpler joys in life: the ones that you can take from anything and can create the best memories out of.

  2. 2. Learning a Code or Secret Language

    As kids, I am sure we all at least attempted to learn some secret language or code between just our friends. It always seemed like such an easy way to keep secrets and seem super exclusive at lunch time. It was the best way to add a little security to important conversations about who likes who at school. Today, the art of secret languages and codes has become lost to me, but I plan on changing that. Now, you can make your own language or you can find an obscure one someone made online. Either way, make sure to share it with your friends. As I have begun learning Morse code with my younger brother, I have been challenged intellectually and I have created a closer bond with him. It is a great way to learn something new, and it has made my bond between my brother and I feel that much more special. It is something just between us. It brought me back to when it was cool to show how close I was to people and when I used to proudly wear my “best” necklace next to my friend’s “friends” necklace.

  3. 3. Cereal and Cartoon Mornings

    Gif of Patrick from Spongebob saying I love you.

    This is a simple joy that will always age well. Every weekend morning of my childhood, I would wake up slowly, go downstairs, fix myself a bowl of cereal and watch cartoons in my pajamas with my brothers. Now, I have not watched cartoons in years and I cannot tell you what is cool today in the world of television animation; however, thanks to numerous streaming platforms, I do not need to know what is cool today because I can travel back in time and stream cartoons and animated series from my childhood. Recently, I rewatched episodes of old shows I used to love and I found new shows, too. Something I came to realize is that a lot of these shows have jokes sprinkled in them for the adult audience and, honestly, it is pretty great now that I can understand them. It was nice to just relax my mind, slow my reality and laugh at a TV show that brings me into another world and takes a load off my mind. Plus, it makes cereal taste way better.

  4. 4. Personal Journals and Diaries

    The Lalagirl Writing In Notebook

    I think I speak for every girl when I say I have thousands of old diaries where years of random, dramatic experiences have been documented by a version of myself from the past. I had taped in pictures, magazines clippings, drawings and old notes from friends as a way of documenting my life. I wrote pages and pages of gibberish about my feelings, friends and old crushes. It made me both laugh and cry as I found my old journals and diaries. I decided it would be fun to make a new one that, years later, I could look back on again. This is a time in history that will be in textbooks and learned about in school so it is a time that should be documented. Not only that, but it is a time where you can catch up on old memories from the past few years and document them. I collected ticket stubs I found in my purse, printed pictures on my phone that I forgot about and made a collage that summed up parts of my recent life I never want to forget. It was amazing to take a moment to reflect on my life and see how much I have changed, how much I have advanced in my life to a point I want to be and how much more I can do. I even made a dream board and wrote to my future self. It felt good to put everything to paper, and I felt nostalgic as I wrote out the names of my recent crushes.

  5. 5. The Sims, Wii and Other Virtual Games

    I used to be obsessed with The Sims and Wii. I played them all the time, and the expansion packs and new games were always on my Christmas lists. Pulling these games back out and picking up from where I left off felt like going back in time. In the world of those games, time had not moved. It was surreal resuming after so many years. It was fun looking back at all the old characters my friends and I had made of ourselves and people we knew. It reminded me that even though I cannot explore my physical world right now, I can always explore virtually. I can challenge my friends to beat my scores and I can teach my parents how to play the old games I used to love. Furthermore, among all this chaos, I can take myself to a new world for a bit, one that I created during a more carefree time in my life.

  6. 6. Complicated Braids and An Abundance of Barrettes

    Anna Schultz-Girl In Braids Taking A Selfie

    When I was little, I pulled my hair tight with millions of different braids and decorated it with an array of different barrettes, headbands and scarfs. It was a fun way to connect with my mom as she taught me the different braids she used to give her sisters. However, as I got older, I became lazier and lost a lot of the spirit and skill I used to have when doing my hair. A ponytail created from six different braids suddenly just became a messy ponytail wrapped in a scrunchy. But, being at home allows me to reconnect with my old skills, find some cute barrettes from 2003 and create a look that is fun and representative of my personality. It reminds me of when my mom used to do my hair before school, and it makes me smile when I can now execute braids perfectly that I could never get when I was little. I feel accomplished and bright with new life as my hair became an extension of my personality once again.

  7. 7. Novice Nail Art

    One thing that I really enjoyed when I was younger was creating my own fun and creative nail art. I would spend hours painting and repainting my nails with bright varying colors, swirls, sparkles, stickers and purposely cracked looks. Not being able to afford a nail salon and not having a car to meet up with my friends led to many fun sleepovers where my friends and I would bring our nail polishes over to each other’s houses and experiment with different styles. In an effort to find that creative joy again, I brought out my old nail design templates, tools and stickers. It makes for a great social activity and creative outlet, since I can video chat with friends who could do their nails with me. It also made me remember how proud I was when I finished my nails, and how great it felt to have created a unique and beautiful addition to my look all on my own. 

Reliving each one of these memories from my childhood has brought a smile to my face and the faces of my family members as I reminded them of the memories we have shared. It was amazing to look back at the person I used to be and live in her shoes, even her rolling ones, for a bit. It allowed me to see how much I have grown as a person and how I have created so many more memories that I can, and should, forever revisit. Most importantly, it reminded me that, although change is good, so is preserving the parts of yourself and your life that you have loved and can continue to love. It is these parts that have brought you amazing things, introduced you to amazing people and allowed those same people to fall in love with you. Don’t forget them.