I woke up at 7 AM on a Saturday. Six hours of sleep as usual. It doesn’t matter how exhausting the previous day was, I always wake up after six hours of sleep. I only set alarms out of habit; I have been beating every single one of them in the past years. I checked my phone for any interesting notification. There was none. I sat up and noticed the notes posted on my corkboard. The number has been growing by the day as I keep on devouring technical literature in this lockdown for my career and for fun.
Career and fun, my younger self would find it hard to put those words in one sentence. He was serious. Perhaps a little too serious he started writing down his own analysis of human behaviour at age fourteen in his second language. He continued to be this serious and uptight up to his early twenties. It had benefits. He would always get As and was definitely reliable. But the seriousness sucked the fun out of everything that could have otherwise been enjoyable.
What is fun? A deceptively simple word. The denotative meaning as with similar concepts, of course, seem to fail to fully capture it. But we know fun when we see one. When was the last time we saw one? The thing is it’s very subjective that something that is fun changes just by thinking about it a tad too hard. And we adults are so good at that: overthinking.
When was our fun years? There’s a good chance that the first thing that would come to mind are our childhood days. We were so good at living at the present which allowed us to have fun. It didn’t matter if our playmate hit us the previous day, or tomorrow was a school day and we didn’t find going to school as exciting as playing. We lived one day at a time and we always found ways to enjoy things that were in front of us. We could fail a quiz which could get us anxious but not too anxious to think that it will derail our entire future like how we treat tiny mishaps at work today. We didn’t know what was ahead, we didn’t think of what’s ahead and that was totally fine.
Then we get older. Suddenly there are a lot to be concerned about. Even our own folks would tell us what to think about. If you’re not concerned about your future, you’re considered immature and surely you don’t want to be seen as immature. You have to see how one thing leads to another because that’s essential for building yourself a bright future. Life is hard. Life is not fair. We need to take things seriously. We have to be more like this and like that. The world owes us nothing and we have to hustle.
There is nothing inherently wrong about all these. But when you’re several bottles in and wallowing in your depression and anxiety, these words are not the ones that will keep you going. If I will be given an opportunity to go back in time and cheer my younger self I’d probably say “This is the real world they are talking about. It’s going to be tough. Yeah, let’s use the word, it can get real shitty. But success for you is happiness; not power, not the straight As you cannot share to anybody. So tone down that seriousness and actively try to have fun even it takes quite a lot of risks. You’d cry less at night and you’ll be the light for many.”
I got up and posted another note on the corkboard. I just remembered something that’s worth capturing. I’ve been upskilling and studying things I have always wanted to study but was a little too afraid to fail in. My younger self indeed didn’t know how to have fun. He was too focused on the outcomes, on the grades and certificates. He was too anxious about every endeavour’s value to his career. He got everything he needed covered but very few of the things he truly wanted. I am changing that. -mB
This was written in response to a one word prompt, “fun”. I post different content weekly from random musings meant to inspire, to articles on technology and management. Feel free to leave a comment or check my other posts. If you’re interested in content like this, you may follow via email or my Twitter account on the sidebar. Cheers!