It is only proper that we get better acquainted so…my name is Robert (sometimes Robbie for those that know me well and occasionally a stern Rob when I am in trouble).
I am a 45 year old teenager and have a mental (maturity) age that is currently hovering at around 13 and ¾ (I added the ¾ – although my partner would offer that this is perhaps a little generous). My life as a “grown up” so far has been a riot of immaturity peppered with occasional bouts of seriousness, living for the moment, and displaying my awesome dimples.
A bit of a late blooming rebel, I have some permanent writing on my arm that reads “just always be waiting for me”. Actually, if we are being honest, I have allowed someone to write on me a number of times (just don’t tell my Mum!).
The literature buffs among you will recognize the quote as being from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie (Peter Pan says it to Wendy). Like Peter Pan I have no intention of growing up and definitely don’t fancy being an adult (firmly believing as I do that ‘adult’ is a state of mind and not a product of aging).
Where am I going with this you ask?
Well I believe that all of us have the capacity to stop the aging process in its tracks by adopting a less mature approach to how we live life. Of course I am not suggesting we can stop time and naturally with every year we age physically – but I believe that getting older is as much a product of the mind as it is the body.
The mind is infinitely complex and can do amazing things. But it can get fooled into making us behave older through the simple act of blowing out yet another candle on our birthday cake. We’ve all probably been told at some point in our lives to “act our age” and this reinforces the mind into making us believe that for every ring of bark we add we need to moderate our behavior to some accepted norm of how people of a certain age act.
Not me – I have done the ‘adult thing’ and didn’t really like it and have now opted to be more childish and strive to squeeze as much joy and wonder as I can out of life. You don’t get old until you act old and I don’t care what society or the establishment think so neither should you.
A newly adopted immaturity can appear incompatible with some aspects of life such as holding down a job and having meaningful relationships. So to clarify I am not advocating skipping work and would also offer that you may have regressed too far if you are having tantrums all the time.
It is possible though to find joy in all aspects of your life. At work we can reward our creative inner child and perhaps not take ourselves too seriously without going full-on child. That said clearly some career choices are incompatible with finding joy but that itself should be a wake-up call and a sign that maybe you need to change jobs.
Outside of work it is relationships, connections and experiences that nurture our inner child. So lets not wait until we are retired and in poor health to have those experiences or to reward ourselves with a holiday. Do it now and not when our bodies can no longer do what our minds encourage us to.
So what are the benefits to not growing up?
Well the first is that life becomes a whole lot more fun when it is not all serious and about responsibility and adult things. To live as a kidult you will naturally need to check in with some of the boring responsibility stuff on occasion (like paying the bills) but, other than this occasional check in, if you spend the majority of time living as a regressed adult you will enjoy life a whole lot more.
If you have friends with kids, or even have children yourself, you can engage with them (the children that is) at their level and have great fun playing pretend or whatever. It is fun and also a great excuse to play with their toys.
Finally it is contagious. You will find that your new childlike exuberance is catching and suddenly your relationships are transformed into something a whole lot more fun.
Laugh more, worry less and think of this quote from Peter Pan:
“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease forever to be able to do it.”
Now go and cram as much joy into your life as you can (tattoos optional).
Robert is the Director of an independent management consultancy, Holbrook, and works with a bunch of great people. He refuses to grow up, thinks he is Peter Pan, and would like to assure his Mum that he doesn’t really have tattoos (honest). He is already planning his trip to Beervana 2017.