The Peter Pan Effect: Who wants to be a grown up anyway?

8 December 2014



When I turned 22 almost two weeks ago, I couldn't help but reminisce on past birthday's. In those young years, I remember the excitement that each birthday held as I turned a year older, and the anticipation of gifts and birthday wishes from friends and family alike. I remember being roughly 10 years old, and declaring to the people around me that I was 10 and a half. I also remember being terribly annoyed if anyone said anything otherwise. But yet somehow as we get older, we find ourselves reluctant to state our ages - with no mentions of in between fractions. We feel glad and blessed if we look younger than what we actually are, as opposed to older. As time passes we vividly embrace those memories that bring us closer to so called detrimental nostalgia, that stops us from seeing the positives yet to come. Here comes my theory called the Peter Pan Effect.


The idea of acting like a grown-up when you're a child is fun because it's all make belief. Things will simply fall into place somehow - like fate. Somewhere along the way we will figure out the life we're supposed to lead. Working hard seems like a 9 to 5 job, which only really happens in the confines of schooling hours. You take regular breaks, have activities to keep you on your toes, and the most puzzling dilemma you may face is what to eat for lunch. Or even the fall out with your childhood best friend who has just "I'm not your friend anymore!" over an argument over hopscotch. When you're younger, you believe that you will have all the answers when you grow up. That you will be more well equip to handle this thing called life; that you will have it all figured out by then.

But as you do get older, you realise it's not true. You are going to have to take charge of this carriage on the very bumpy road ahead. And that's when it truly hits you. Why did you ever really want to grow up in the first place? The world was sweeter when you were younger, dreaming away on your rug - your makeshift magic carpet ride. Now 
you're left with the big questions, the responsibilities, which seem to be much more terrifying than you previously imagined. All you were worried about back then was, if your parents would let stay up late to watch something you loved, or if you got that item or toy you wanted for your birthday or Christmas. Whereas now, it's about things you need to get done in order to graduate, get accepted to university, or even to find a job to support yourself so you can achieve things in life.

But however simplistic childhood may have been, there are so many experiences that you do not experience then. The time you learn how to drive, the time you actually find something you love doing. The moment you can go travelling without a parent by your side. The day you can purchase things without your parents permission or money. Decorating your apartment that you live in funded by you. All these things - however little they may seem -are pretty incredible achievements themselves. If you spend too long stuck in the past, you may miss the incredible present or future that you're creating. Childhood may even be an essence of mind, that you can take with you into your adulthood life. Embrace it. Don't let the world take it over. And don't let anyone tell you otherwise. As Peter Pan once said, "To live would be an awfully big adventure."

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