There was a time, before we got all jaded and grumpy, that our main purpose was to have fun. As kids, we jumped out of bed every morning, eager to find the best ways to a) get candy, b) meet friends, c) watch cartoons and d) avoid chores at all costs.
We had it all figured out. Why did grown-ups make everything so difficult? Politics, manipulation and sociopathic behaviors were things we didn’t understand. (I still don’t understand.)
After life punches us in the face for several decades, we get out of bed a little slower and rarely find time for cartoons or candy. Friends become precious. Chores increase exponentially.
But maybe those 10-year-old versions of ourselves were right all along. Maybe we need to remember some basic rules about life that were totally obvious to us before we finished elementary school. These things are truths at any age.
- Going to the bank is boring—unless there are those chain-attached pens you can play with
- If you’re good at the store, you might get a Butterfinger
- Going to the zoo sounds like a good idea, but it’s actually exhausting
- Visiting grandma gets you spoiled
- Sometimes you need to stay in bed all day reading a good book
- Making friends is easy
- Going to bed early is a punishment
- It’s okay to cry when your feelings are hurt
- Saturday morning cartoons are awesome
- Spending an afternoon in the park is the best use of your time
- A $20 bill makes you rich
- When your friend is mean, it’s okay to tell them that wasn’t nice
- It’s fun to be excited for birthdays and Christmas
- Eating cold cereal for dinner is the best
- Throwing a water balloon at your sister is thrilling
- You never have to watch your carbs
- Shoes aren’t always necessary
- Cloud watching is not a waste of time
So how did we go from being fun-loving kidlets to cranky adults? When did we decide it was better to be busy than to have fun?
As with most terrible things, I blame the teenage years. Being 13 years old can be devastating. If you watch the movie Eighth Grade, be prepared for some serious junior high PTSD as a beautiful young girl destroys her own self-esteem with anxiety, junior high romance and pool parties. Seriously triggering.
Once we drag ourselves out of the primordial swamp of high school, we’ve become a little less trusting and optimistic. Then we double-down on our cynicism as we enter the workforce.
When you were in elementary school, dreaming about the time you’d be a grown up with your own car and the ability to eat ice cream after midnight, you never considered the possibility that working sucks. Sure, we saw our parents come home from work, down a bottle of gin and collapse on the couch like a bag of old pudding, but that was because they’d had SO MUCH FUN at work!
Something needs to change.
If you find yourself scowling at happiness, it’s time to check back with your inner fourth-grader and do something fun. Skip work and go hiking. Have an ice-cream sundae, without promising to jog later (because 10-year-olds don’t jog). Start a conversation with a stranger. Spend $20 on something entirely useless. Have Lucky Charms for dinner.
We need to remember, it’s fun to a) get candy, b) meet friends, c) watch cartoons and d) avoid chores at all costs. Life’s too short to grow old.