In second or third grade, I resolved to never grow up.
Even then, I knew I couldn’t stop aging. There was no way to stop growing up–besides, I wanted some of the perks of being big, like being allowed to eat ice cream whenever I wanted and have my own money to buy things.
But I felt, deep in my heart, that I never wanted to be a sad grownup: I wanted to keep playing, forever (and, being me, this was meant in a slightly more responsible Peter Pan way). Grownups didn’t seem happy. They never did anything fun. And I didn’t want that.
I grew up, as is the way of things, of course. But it’s only fairly recently that I’ve thought about how difficult that “be fun” part is. It’s a constant battle to maintain creativity: adults have inertia tugging at them all the time–it’s ok, just sit down and watch that show and zone out for awhile; just sit at your deskjob and hope things get better; just wait patiently. And, in many ways, the “fun” and joie de vive is intentionally squashed: even a casual office has rules about what you can wear, and there’s a lot of subtext about what you can (or shouldn’t) do at work, and while you may want to go and play *someone* still has to do the dishes… And those things never really stop.
And there’s some peer pressure to conform, too: it’s considered perfectly acceptable to spend your paycheck on that sport TV package, but you’re unusual if you do tabletop gaming or read a lot of books.
My fiance is of a similar silliness quotient to me, so he doesn’t blink when I do things like text him to let him know that I have a newfound interest in starting an aquarium so I can put an Aquaman figure in it. But his response made me think.
See, he took my completely ridiculous concept at complete face-value, and replied that “we could, but we’d have to worry about the cat.” When I asked him about it later–and pointed out how silly my idea had been–he said “well, I thought I’d be the responsible one so you could be silly a little bit longer.”
See, being an adult is a lot of work. That ice cream for dinner had to come from somewhere, and it turns out people don’t give you money very often when you are big, so you have to earn it. That sometimes means being serious and not-fun. But we are not alone! We can team up and be silly together or take turns!
I think this is a revelation.
Truly, I think I’m not the only Gen-Y-er to have this sense that we don’t want to become like the grownups we knew when we were small. I see a lot more embracing of everyday silliness and niche interests, and more people are carving time out to participate in a hobby. Heck, even my own parents aren’t like the grownups I knew them as when I was younger.
I think this is a good start. Yes, you may be alive if you are getting through the day without thought or passion, but you aren’t truly living. Give yourself permission to be silly–even if it means sharing with someone else.