Over the weekend I attended a pillow fort party with some of my dearest friends in this city, and it took me on a much needed visit back to childhood. What’s a pillow fort party? So glad you asked. It’s when your amazingly creative and talented friends turn their apartment into a 5-year-old’s wet dream by hanging and draping blankets, sheets, and tapestries from the ceiling to create tents and then litter the floor with pillows and cushions. Yep. That happened.
Everyone in attendance was wearing comfy and adorable pajamas, but I decided to level up my game by wearing my Elmo onesie and sipping on “adult milk” (White Russians) garnished with Reese’s Puffs. Yep. That also happened. We spent the night playing video games, making doodles in coloring books, and unleashing our inner kids for a little while.
At some point underneath that blanket fort, I had a thought: the older I get the more I realize that being a grownup isn’t always as awesome as I thought it would be when I was a kid.
Between paying the bills, maintaining an orderly home, taking care of your mind-body-spirit, sustaining relationships with loved ones, keeping up-to-date on worldly happenings, keeping up with the Kardashians, and getting enough sleep to not look like a zombie everyday... it’s a miracle that so many humans make it to the age of 70 without completely losing their damn minds.
Why did everything seem so wonderful through the rose-tinted goggles of childhood? And how can I get a day pass to go back to the days where my biggest problems in life were completing a few hours of homework and dealing with my little brother making fart noises in my face?
I remember battling through insecurity, puberty, and general growing pains as a wee bear, looking at the grownups around me, and thinking, "Man.... they’ve got all the answers and all the freedom. I can’t wait to be a grownup with all the answers.”
And here I am. A 20-something year old living in NYC and realizing more and more everyday that not only do I have no idea what I’m doing, but nobody does.
I vaguely remember the first time it dawned on me that grownups don’t really have all the answers. I remember it having something to do with my parents and a decision they were struggling with and how it was consuming all of their energy, time, patience, and level-headedness. I wasn’t particularly young, but not particularly old... somewhere in that gray tween area. But it definitely shattered all the illusions I had of growing up and finally having all my shit together all the time.
In that blanket fort of dreams, I started thinking about the little things that would light up my life when I was a kid. The little things that would magically turn my bad days into good ones and make me temporarily forget about all my really difficult 8-year-old struggles.
Things like playing dress up. Or helping my mom make something delicious in the kitchen, or getting a new toy/book. Or the promise of going on an adventure to the ice cream store if I was extra good and kept quiet in the back of the damn car. Or chasing each other around with pillows in the empty living room of our new house in Jersey.
The more I thought about those simple pleasures and the theory behind it, the more I realized that I’ve actually done a pretty job recently of reincorporating them back into my adult life as incentives and treats.
A few examples:
- Every time I get a new kitchen gadget (like my new veggie spiralizer which is LIFE), I spend entirely too much time in the kitchen tinkering with it and all the recipes I’ve catalogued in my brain from recurring phases of Food Network addiction.
- What’s the biggest incentive I’ve had recently for drinking more water? It makes my skin look amazing and lets me play with all the fun parts of makeup instead of the covering blemishes part.
- Ever since I bought myself some snazzy new sneakers, going to the gym has been a treat just to look at (and show off) my bright pink feet.
- And as much as I love the work I do, nothing motivates me to get out of bed and get on my grind like the promise of a big international trip on the horizon.
Same concepts.... just applied to my life by myself rather than my parents. And I guess that some day, eventually, I’ll probably use them on my kids too. So maybe that's what growing up really is: finding the methods of motivation that work for you and make all that bad stuff tolerable.
I guess the moral of the story is that I need more pillow fort parties in my life as I continue to reluctantly grow up. ......I ain't even mad about it.
Sending Reeses flavored keeses,