Remember playing the game of tag? Everyone knows this fun, simple game where players chase each other while taking turns being ‘it.’ Tag spans generations, crosses cultural boundaries, and is not restricted to age, skill, or gender.
I recently had an epiphany – almost everything I ever needed to learn, I learned in the playground and recess. There’s more to an innocent and simple game of tag than meets the eye. I learned how to stand up for myself in the few lumps that sometimes degenerated into a shove, push, punch, and eventually a brawl.
Tag taught me strategy, how to correctly make mistakes, patience, emotional intelligence, creativity, losing gracefully, and how to simply stop chasing what’s not meant for me. Because you know, it will only keep running away.
Have you wondered about the life lessons learned during your childhood? They probably shaped you into the person you are today.
These are 16 valuable life lessons I learned from playing tag:
1. Mistakes Are Great, But Don’t Repeat Them
You’ll often learn a lot about yourself and the situation you’re in when you mess up or falter. It’s all about trial and error. Failing and learning from your setbacks to move forward is a vital life skill. While playing tag, you may realize that you quickly get tagged when you go to a specific spot or in a particular direction.
You quickly learn how to find better spots and avoid the ‘danger zones.’ We all have those days when you feel like you’re doing everything wrong. Everybody makes mistakes. Instead of beating yourself up, try to learn from the experience and make the necessary changes.
2. Strategy Is Everything
In tag, you have to develop and apply the correct strategies to avoid getting tagged or make it easy to tag others. You may be playing tag with someone who is super elusive and fast, making it easy for them to tag without getting tagged. If you’re not fast enough, you have to find a way to even the playing field. Be better at hiding and finding them unawares before they get the chance to run.
This same principle applies in life. We all possess unique skills and talents that, in some way, give us an advantage over others. You can’t be great at everything, and you’ll obviously come across better people than you in some aspects of life. Instead of whining about it, apply your talents and skills to get yourself ahead too!
3. Take Action Immediately
People put things off far too often. How many times have you told yourself you’ll start a diet next week, save when you get a better job, or take action only when you’re sure of the outcome? Such procrastination is often based on the fear of failure or the desire for perfection.
You have to take swift action as you’re being chased in tag, such as dodging to avoid getting tagged. There’s usually no time to think about it. You just do it almost instinctively. This teaches you that you don’t need perfection to take action. Even in failure, you can learn what you need to succeed in the future.
4. Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You
Once you break someone’s trust, you can’t really expect them to believe you again or be there for you when you need it. If your idea of tagging is to push, shove or punch others, then soon enough, you’ll also get shoved, pushed, and punched! Even worse, no one will want to play with you.
You have to treat others the way you want to be treated. If you wish to get respect, show respect and if you want a friend, be a friend. In the sandbox of life, it’s essential to know how to play well and get along with others.
5. You Can’t Make It On Your Own
Even if you’re naturally introverted and prefer to spend time on your own, there are times when you will need to collaborate with other people. It’s literally impossible to play a game of tag by yourself; who will you be tagging?
While self-reliance is essential, unhealthy boundaries can leave you feeling emotionally empty and depleted. You need other people, and you also need to be that other person to someone else.
6. Think Outside The Box
Tag encourages creativity and original thinking. You’re constantly thinking of ways to be a better player. You have to think on your feet and develop clever ways to avoid getting tagged and more innovative ways to tag other players.
This makes you forward-thinking even in life and allows you to keep growing by constantly looking for ways to improve. Using your creativity to solve problems can give you an edge over everyone else, and therefore, people will have a harder time tagging you.
7. Stand Up For Yourself
Playing tag helps you overcome the fear of confrontation and encourages the development of conflict resolution skills. You learn to communicate well, assertively express your opinion and share ideas of fairness while addressing the issue head-on.
The rough and tumble of playing tag can sometimes escalate into conflict. On the playground, you have to discover how to handle conflict on your own and effectively. Letting people walk all over you will just increase anxiety and stress. It can even lessen your feelings of self-worth.
Fairness involves impartiality and honesty, which conforms to a particular set of rules. It doesn’t mean equal or nice or that everybody gets what they want. It means everybody has an equal opportunity to benefit, and this is essential for morality.
In tag, everybody has an equal chance of being the hunter or the prey. It involves taking turns, negotiating agreements on rules and trust, and everyone participating in the game has to follow the same rules regardless of age or status.
9. Take Healthy Risks
Playing tag comes with the risk of broken bones, a concussion, and numerous scrapes and bumps, but this mainly teaches you to rise up even stronger than ever. It helps you develop resilience, risk management skills, and confidence while opening up many possibilities.
Taking healthy risks is a challenging yet straightforward way of changing your life for the better. You can either sit on the sidelines and watch life pass you by or get out of your comfort and thrive! It goes without saying that some risks should not be taken because the consequences can be disastrous.
10. Embrace Simplicity
Tag is one of the simplest and easiest games to play. All you require is an open space, and you can enjoy it with anyone, anywhere at any time. Its simplicity has made it withstand the test of time, and it’s impossible to play a game of tag without having a good time.
True happiness is often found in the most simple things. Embracing simplicity fills your life with meaning, allows you to easily see the reality of the situation, gives you more freedom, and reduces your stress levels. It’s the keynote of true elegance and has inspired poets, artists, visionaries, and philosophers throughout history.
11. You Have To Adapt To Survive
In a game of tag, you have to quickly adapt to the situation to be a better player. Whether you’re the hunter or the prey, the chase constantly changes with every turn, and you have to work out effective strategies on how to tag or dodge tags.
Like life, changes in the tag game happen on the move, making it crucial to think and react quickly. Your level of adjustability will determine how well you embrace change or handle different situations. It’s a vital life skill, especially in the current fast-changing world, and it can influence your quality of life.
12. Take It Easy
Tag promotes joy for everyone involved and is an excellent stress reliever. It teaches you to appreciate the little moments and make every second count! Life is fleeting, and it often comes down to how much joy you extracted from it.
The fact that tag is so spontaneous teaches you to grab hold of joy when you can and live life to the fullest. Constantly worrying, working, and dealing with responsibilities can make life seem dull and short. Embrace the powerful medicine of humor and laughter, and you’ll feel less burdened and more focused, grounded, and inspired.
13. It’s Not Always About Winning
Managing feelings that come with loss or rejection can be challenging for anyone. The last thing you want is to be a sore loser who throws a tantrum when things don’t go your way. In a game of tag, you take turns winning and losing or becoming the prey and the hunter.
Through this, you learn good sportsmanship and get to understand that winning or losing isn’t a big deal because it’s all part of the fun. In life, you should take pride in knowing that you gave it your best shot regardless of the outcome.
14. Don’t Get Too Comfortable
Getting too comfortable in your position makes you an easy target. Staying in one place or area for too long makes you vulnerable, and you have to stay alert at all times.
Life can throw you a few whammies out of the blue or change at a moment’s notice, so you have to be ready for anything!
15. We Can Learn A lot From Children
As children, we played tag with children from all kinds of backgrounds, and all were welcome regardless of language, culture, ability, status, or age. All children are born open-minded and accepting of everybody. Compared to adults, they have an unbiased view of the world.
One vital lesson you’ll learn while playing tag with children is to truly embrace diversity and accept all people regardless of their differences.
16. Sometimes It’s Okay To Quit
Endurance is an important life skill, and from a very young age, we’re taught to keep at it, never give up or stick it out. Quitting is often associated with failure, but the truth is that it’s a bit more nuanced than that. You can have perfectly valid reasons to quit a job, project, or relationship. Once you have an instinct to withdraw, it’s likely for a good reason.
Playing tag teaches us to follow this instinct perfectly. Right at the beginning, you have to agree whether you’ll participate or not, and the moment the dynamic of the game changes, you can opt-out and quit.
Sometimes you can chase after something obsessively until it becomes unhealthy. As long as you’re doing right by yourself, you have to let go and believe that if it’s meant for you, it will seek you out and tag you no matter where you are.