“GROW UP!”

It really doesn’t matter what age you are, someone has probably attempted to enlighten you with those two words at some point in your life. Honestly, the inner Peter Pan in me has always screamed NO in response; it just never sounded like a good idea.

For those of you who don’t know, Peter Pan syndrome is what they call it when a person physically grows up, but is really a child at heart. Some like to refer to it as something negative, however, I see it more as holding onto a part of yourself that you were never fully okay with letting go of in the first place.

We treat being young as if it’s this disease characterized by general insanity and naïveté that we need to get rid of as soon as possible if we are to function in the so-called ‘real world’. But if that’s true then why is it that older people are constantly wishing that they could go back to their youth?

Being young doesn’t necessarily have to mean being reckless and care-free, because let’s face it, no teenager is ever care-free. Perhaps being young is more about approaching situations with a fresher perspective than those lacking Peter Pan syndrome might.

Here in Egypt and all around the world, we’re raised to idolize the idea of growing up and settling down as if it’s the singular solution to all of our problems. Year by year though, we discover that our problems are here to stay unless we decide to face them head on.

For teenagers like me, ‘settling down’ sounds an awful lot like we’re being asked to throw our dreams in the trash and settle for less than we deserve.

I mean when I envision my future, I see published novels stacked on bookshelves and long adventurous days of unspeakable experiences. The great thing about being a so-called sufferer of Peter Pan syndrome is that you’re not afraid to imagine those adventures in your mind. And more than that…you somehow have the courage to go after those very visions to try and make them a reality.

Truth is, the people who are constantly telling others to grow up are usually the ones in desperate need of Peter Pan syndrome. They often are more depressed than people who actively strive to be young at heart and they often are unhappy with their lot in life, but are completely unwilling to do anything to change it.

The slow destruction of the inner Peter Pan starts slowly even now, and some of us don’t even realize it. Like the other day a friend and I were sitting in my living room trying to decide on a movie to watch and me, being the kid I am, I suggested a Disney movie!

My friend went on to remind me that Disney movies are apparently only for children. I ignored her, put it on anyway and guess what? She loved it!

Experiencing life with the open eyes of youth is a quality we all are born with and should strive to retain. It’s that innocence that we have as children that we should always take with us as we move into adulthood.

Let me put it this way, Peter Pan syndrome is waking up on Christmas day in your twenties, thirties and forties and being equally as excited as you were when you were eight.

It’s going bungee jumping in your fifties, taking dance lessons in your sixties and even getting a tattoo at the age of seventy. It’s realizing that we limit ourselves by putting boundaries on everything. Those boundaries don’t have to exist!

The good news is that the little kid within us never really goes away. It’s just that some of us choose to listen to that kid while others do their utmost to keep him silent. They try to ignore the magic of life because they’ve convinced themselves that it doesn’t exist.

If being an adult means getting rid of all my dreams just so I can take on responsibilities that I never even wanted and living life from day to day only focusing on the mundane, then thanks but no thanks. Peter Pan may have been a figment of J.M. Barrie’s imagination, but that doesn’t mean that the lessons from that book aren’t real.

Peter Pan lives in all of us and personally, I don’t plan on letting him go anytime soon. Not unless he plans on taking me to Neverland that is.

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