Peter Pan Syndrome

Peter Pan Syndrome is a pop-psychology term, meaning it’s not recognized in the DSM. It refers to people, usually men, who are in a perpetual state of (emotional) adolescence. But is that really such a bad thing? I’ve been accused of refusing to grow up before. Sometimes it’s from a good-natured place, or even said out of admiration, but it’s also said to me in a condescending and judgmental way. Why don’t I just grow up?

Well, what does “growing up” even mean? Turning into an adult is kind of out of our hands. Time keeps on ticking, and regardless of your decisions and worldviews, if you’re alive you will eventually be old enough to vote, drink, and get a credit card. You’ll start getting hangovers after just one beer and your skin will form wrinkles. The world will view you as an adult, strictly because of your chronological age. That’s fine. There’s actually a lot of good that comes with being an adult, a lot of freedoms and privileges that I am grateful to have.

That doesn’t mean that I want to wear khaki pants and spend every day running errands, though. I try to be courteous and responsible when it comes to others, but if my actions aren’t affecting other people, then I really just do whatever I want. Doing whatever I want includes not being influenced by the stigma that is placed on adults playing. Playing is an important part of life at any age, and I refuse to stop.

If growing up means that I can’t eat lasagna for breakfast, or that an entire section of my closet needs to be dedicated to grey pant suits, then count me out. If your idea of growing up implies that I have to stop dancing in bars or leaving stickers for my waitresses, then I have no problem “staying a child”. Kids laugh hundreds of times a day compared to the few dozen we manage to squeeze into our busy schedules anyway. Sometimes I feel like they have a much better idea of what’s important than we do.

Maybe you have to be awake before the sun rises and don’t stop moving till it disappears behind the clouds, but that doesn’t mean you can’t partake in the silliness and beauty life has to offer. Make jokes with your coworkers, leave silly notes for your waitress at business lunches. Skip to the parking lot, keep a stuffed animal friend in your passenger’s seat, and listen to musical soundtracks while you’re on your commute. Don’t be afraid to dance down the subway corridor or tell bad puns in the elevator. Wear a giant flower in your hair or bring donuts in for your office. Bring you knitting into classrooms where you know you won’t have to take notes and make sure all your stationery is bright and sparkly. There’s always ways to add color to your life, don’t miss those opportunities.

Getting older, planning a wedding, raising a child, paying a mortgage, and preparing three meals a day are things we get to do as adults. Don’t resent the activities and chores you have, because it could be a lot worse. And remember that even when you have to go to the bank to deposit that check, you can always grab a free lollipop. That kind of makes everything better.

What do you think? Are you a “grown-up”? Do you refuse to grow up? Is it all just semantic nonsense? Are you sucking on a lollipop right now? I really want a blue one…

If you liked the message of this post you’ll love this song:

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Be The Kind Of Adult You Want To Be
We’re All Just Kids In Adult Costumes
50 Ways To Play

Original Photo Credit: Maura Housley Photography
Photo Editing: Carly Kaste