Updated: May 12, 2020
No, I’m not talking about the F word that becomes more acceptable to use the older you get. I’m talking about the other F word; the one that seems to become less acceptable the older you get… Yes, I’m talking about fun. FUN. Are adults allowed to have fun? Of course they are… But how much? Where is the line? Or better yet, why is there a line? And who drew it, because I have a serious bone to pick with them. As the iconic 90s supermodel Kate Moss once said: “Why the fuck can’t I have fun all the time?” Wow, both F words in one sentence?! This is why we love Kate. And she is not playing around, ironically enough. Perhaps we need to take fun a little more seriously. It is time we have a little chat about the detrimental glorification of “the hustle” that seems to be driving our generation into full-on workaholic mode, and not in a good way.
This first grabbed my attention when I read an article from the New York Times about the toxic workaholic culture instilled in our society, especially as millennials. Seeing that everyone likes to pin our generation as lazy, unmotivated, and seeking instant gratification, I found it intriguing that we are, in fact, highly driven, if not excessively driven. Sure, being driven looks different in 2019 considering how much businesses rely on technology and social media to thrive, but we are still taught to sacrifice just about everything in life if it means establishing ourselves in a career. The author of the article pointed out the sense of guilt most people experience when they spend their time in a way that isn’t productive or beneficial to their work. We feel bad for doing things we want to do; even reading a fictional novel instead of a self-improvement or business strategy book is seen as lesser than. I know some of my previous posts have been (kind of) about trying to be more productive with my time, and of course I still strive to work hard and do my best, but why do we glorify hard work in a way that is borderline unhealthy? For some, working around the clock towards something they really care about can be enjoyable and fulfilling, but for others, this just makes it seem like it isn’t enough to simply do the work you need to do and then spend the rest of your time actually enjoying your life… like talking to friends and family, watching movies, baking banana bread, going to a café simply for the sake of enjoying a coffee without pulling out your laptop to grind out some extra work. Obviously the idea of “balance” is a bit of a cliché at this point, but I think it should be promoted far more than the whole “work till you don’t think you can work any more and then keep going” attitude. Of course it’s necessary to work in this world if you want to survive. And some people are very fortunate to have careers that are rewarding and genuinely pleasant while others have to do whatever they can to provide for themselves and their families. Either way, we shouldn’t lose sight of the value of slowing down and taking time to actually, you know, enjoy our lives. I don’t think life has to suck, and I also don’t think working yourself to the bone is the only way to measure productivity.
So here’s a thought: What if being hard-working and driven and motivated meant more than just your ethic when it comes to work and school? What if you were driven to spend more time with your family, or to read more books you actually want to read (like, for fun… yes, I’m using the F word), or to prioritize cooking homemade meals five nights a week while treating yourself to a glass or two of wine? What if we decided that doing things to please your soul was equally as valuable as doing things to further your career? I find it’s hard to be a middle-ground person in this regard. I do work hard when hard work is necessary, and I want to be successful and I want to have a fulfilling work life and I do consider myself a driven person, but I also love having no responsibilities and getting to relax and do whatever I feel like doing. Who doesn’t, right? Well, apparently lots of people. Apparently some people love working so much that if it doesn’t consume their lives entirely, they feel bored and antsy. Imagine that! What a concept. I, personally, cannot relate. Maybe I will be able to one day if I end up having my own business that I pour my heart and soul into or if I land in a career that I am deeply passionate about, but as of right now I need that dose of fun in my everyday life.
With all that said, we go crazy over the superhumans of our world that somehow find a way to squeeze every last drop out of each 24 hour window before them. We admire and even aspire to be like people like Mark Wahlberg, who wakes up at an ungodly hour–2 a.m. to be precise–to do his first workout of the day (I quiver just typing “first” knowing that means there is at least one other to follow in a single day), shower, have a protein shake, and start on whatever work he has waiting for him. It’s great that that works for him and it’s just awesome that he earns the title of “superhuman” for what I would consider to be INSANITY, but nonetheless, people worship this kind of lifestyle. I’m just not sure why anyone would ever choose to wake up two hours after midnight by choice. Don’t you have any desire to enjoy your life, or is it strictly about being better and stronger and working harder? Having more hours in a day than everyone else? Heck, I don’t care if this makes me a terrible and useless human, I would rather have a regular night’s sleep and live an ordinary life than be a jacked millionaire whose whole world revolves around being inhumanly productive. I don’t think we have to take up crazy habits and otherworldly lifestyles to be the best we can be. I think true fulfillment has to come from an internal satisfaction and overall enjoyment of life. But what do I know? (Very little. The answer is very little.)
Then again, that’s just me. Does it really affect me at all if Mark Wahlberg wakes up three hours after I go to sleep and crushes multiple workouts in a day? Not in the slightest. Does it matter that Oprah accomplishes more during my eight hour slumber than I will accomplish in an entire day? Nope. It’s really not about comparing and competing and trying to be the best. We all need to do what makes us happy, regardless of whether or not someone somewhere is doing more. Because guess what? Someone somewhere will always be doing more. If you truly feel fulfilled when you’re working like a maniac and are perpetually consumed by work projects, that is amazing. If you want to show up, do your work as best as you can and then go home and sit around doing nothing, that is amazing as well. We don’t all need to be Mark Wahlbergs. In fact, we already have one of him and I think that’s enough. We really can’t have any more people making the rest of us feel like wastes of human life… It’s just too much.
At the end of the day, what matters most in this world is the state of humanity and being kind, compassionate, loving human beings. Whatever lifestyle makes you the happiest will in turn make you a better person to be around, and the world will be a better place because of it! Of course we all want to make a living in a way that is gratifying on a deeper level than a strictly financial one (although financial gratification is also very nice and quite necessary to survive), but don’t forget about the whole living thing that life is all about. Make time for the things you enjoy and don’t feel guilty if that thing is watching mindless TV or sitting in the sun with a margarita or seven (as long as you don’t have to work the next day, that is). I think it’s all a domino effect, you know? Be kind, do good, and remember that you cannot help others without helping yourself first. I mean DUH, why else do you think they’re always reminding us on flights to put our own oxygen masks on before helping someone else?! You can’t do anything for anyone else if you’re dead!!! You also can’t do anything for anyone else if you’re dead inside!!! Apply this to your everyday life and realize that if you aren’t allowing yourself to recharge and be the best you that you can be, whatever that may look like, then you aren’t going to be able to successfully and sustainably improve anyone else’s life or contribute positively to the world. God, this is starting to sound like a Christmas letter from my dad and as much as I love those little messages full of love and wisdom, it’s just a little too lame coming from me. (Sorry dad!)
Anywho, this is all just something to think on. Let’s just be nice humans first and foremost. Maybe we can stop worrying so much about making boatloads of money and being crazy successful and busy all the time and actually consider FUN an important part of life. Just as important as the not so fun things. Maybe we don’t have as much time for fun when we have real jobs to be invested in, relationships and families to care for, and boring things like taxes to file or whatever (I’m not that grown up yet– I don’t know the first thing about taxes but come to think of it maybe that’s something I should be learning… how fitting while we’re on the topic of fun!) Ultimately, the only person who can define your own success is you. You don’t have to succumb to the belief that “successful people” are the ones who own big fancy houses, drive flashy cars, and go on elaborate vacations multiple times a year. Unless that’s what you want, then by all means go and chase after it! But success can also just mean waking up for a job you don’t hate and making time for the little things you enjoy. That’s it. Let’s normalize the F word. Let’s have FUN and not feel guilty about it! What a wild and wonderful thought.
In all honesty, I still get to have a lot of fun so y’all are probably thinking I should shut right up and wait for life to hit me. And you’re probably very right. But I know what it’s like to feel guilty for doing something I want to do, even if only for half an hour, when I know I should be doing something more productive. I can only imagine how much this guilt will fester when I’m a real real adult with a real real career with those scary real real responsibilities that I mention all too much. But still, can we just relax and have fun? I just want to relax and have fun. Let’s all just relax and have fun. For a bit. Maybe just for a bit? And heck, let’s refuse to feel bad about it. There is no reason to feel bad about having a little fun.
(Or a lot of fun. I’m still 23, OK? I’m going to have as much gosh darn fun as I can get away with.)
Ps. I’d just like to point out that this post was also written from my desk at work. I am a full-blown BLOGGER, y’all! That is all.