Midweek Musings: Why Peter Pan Had It Wrong

Wednesday, October 23, 2013


I finally decided that I do want to grow up.

Remember in elementary school when your imagination was so tangible that the playground was a battle ground, kickball games, jousts, and lunchtime, the grandest feast of lords and ladies with dirty fingernails? Now I'm living in a city where there are no more recesses, no more feasts, no more wickedly exciting adventures. And the battles waging around me are of time management and what to wear to fraternity parties and oh should I text him back?! and "we need to talk about our futures." Feasts are composed of peanut butter crackers and day-old hot chocolate. Hardly fit for a knight of Camelot.

So why would anybody want to grow up?! Why aren't we all searching for Neverland? Neverland, where we never have to let those wonderful daydreams go. Where we can live in blissful, innocent fantasy. Where daydreams are reality.

Unfortunately, what I'm learning by growing up is that the greatest fallacy J. M. Barrie taught us as wide-eyed elementary school students is this very concept of "daydreams are reality." Daydreams are NOT reality. They are fictionalized, idealized realms of falsehood that we make up in our minds in order to escape reality. What I'm realizing growing up is that no matter how elaborate your daydreams are, they are not real life. These philosophies are becoming sort of abstract, so let me sent an example in concrete: say you are sitting in class and suddenly the wall in front of you shatters open and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts are right there behind that bit of wall playing to the biggest crowd you've ever seen in your life, and Joan Jett tosses you the microphone with a friendly heads up! and you're running out of class through this crumpled bit of wall and you're singing your heart out. What seems like hours later after 3 encores and a version of "I Love Rock N Roll" that literally explodes the speakers with little bits of fluffy speaker dust floating around you like snow, everyone is packing up and you have nothing written on your notebook and wait am I in economics or art history right now?! Or say, for example, that you imagine this Utopia: it's Saturday in Athens, and the town is decked out in Red & Black. You're in your very best gameday dress: a white shift (with pockets). The sun is shining but it's not hot enough to sweat and not cold enough to need a jacket. You're lounging in a camp chair with a big fat Georgia "G" on the back, ice cold *soda* in hand, listening to that really cute boy in red chinos and a baseball hat tell the most ridiculously funny story. You and 100 of your closest friends and family then all skeddadle down Baxter to Sanford Stadium, only to watch the Dawgs win in a nail-biter. And so on actual, non-dream Saturday, when the sun is blazing down and your dress doesn't have pockets, (where does your ticket go? or your pocket money for those inevitable nachos you're gonna get at the game?) you slump sadly to the game and then of course the Dawgs loose to an underdog like Vanderbilt. (Really? REALLY?)

So daydreams are not reality. So I'm not a rock star. So I'm not a tailgate queen. So I'm just a boring college student in a boring college class in a dress with no pockets. So Peter Pan lied. So there is no magical world to escape duties and work. So what.

This realization sounds horrible and sad, so why did I decide that I want to grow up? Why is it worth tempering my daydreams and my expectations? Why is it important to pull my head out of the clouds when the air up there is so much nicer and everything is a lot more glittery????

Peter Pan taught us in elementary school that daydreams are reality, which at the time was what we needed. We were fresh into the world and young and innocent and we needed imagination to impress upon our young minds. What is changing for me this year after reflections on this philosophy in Italy, and after a rocky first semester (sorry for the lack of blog postings...I've been so busy!) is that I've accepted that daydreams are not reality, BUT I've learned that daydreams can BECOME reality. Maybe when I stop daydreaming about the Blackhearts in class I'll learn something about economics and art history and then get the coolest job ever out of college. Maybe when I stop daydreaming about living in Camelot, I'll find an internship for the summer and fulfill my childhood dream of living in NYC or my current dream of moving to Nashville. Maybe when I stop trying to live out all these false fantasies, I'll find that I have more time to blog, to explore the really cool, dreamy place I live in, to foster real relationships with the inspiring real people I encounter each day.

(Maybe when I stop re-reading Peter Pan, I'll have time to tackle more challenging, age-appropriate literature. *smirk*)

Maybe this time it will be worth giving up daydreams for good and finally moving on and into reality because reality is REAL. (It only took 19 years of my life to figure this out.)

Image from Pinterest.com 

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