I was singing on the sidewalks when I was told “to grow up.” My peer was only a year and a half older, and he was apparently disappointed in my behavior. A couple days later I was told that my discomfort around strangers meant I was acting “childish” and that “a grown man should be able to take care of things like that.” Later I got additions: no climbing trees, no wandering the woods to see Nature’s splendor, no walking on only one color of tile.
So, in our conversations I encountered ideas that others had also said. These people all seemed to share resentful fidelity to family, eagerness to vocalize criticism, and firm intention to enter career fields they do not enjoy just for the money. They seemed to expect to drink alcohol because that makes their interactions more adult. They argued politics and news and fashions… they must all be so grown up.
But my peer was not happy. Instead of joy or curiosity for life I found bitterness, despair, and anxiety.
So the question here is obvious: if growing up means that you take anything fun out of life, force yourself to go to a job you don’t want, and routinely consume depressants as a standard social interaction, what “grown-up” won’t be a lamentable disgruntled wreck?
Here’s the solution: I am not a “grown man.” I dropped a major that was highly displeasurable because I do not want a crummy career-is that so hard? I am not sure who is telling people that they must not have fun once they hit some arbitrary age marker, but folks, that needs to change. See the world differently, with the eyes of a child.
Laugh at coincidence. Sing to the rain. Interrupt conversation just to repeat a word that sounds funny. Play cards and argue the qualities of heroes. Catch snowf lakes with tongue and eyelashes and giggle if you fall down. You do not need to wait for retirement to think of what can make you happy: maybe instead we can grow up enough to see that life is meant to be enjoyed. If being childish means thinking life is worth living, let us never grow up.