If you’ve ever heard of Peter Pan Syndrome, you’ve probably heard it used to describe a man in his mid to late twenties who refuses to get a big adult job or buy a house or marry a girl thats he’s been dating for seven years. I’m using it to describe myself. I don’t want to grow up. I wish I didn’t go to school. I’m feeling like a puppet reciting all these rules.
(If you don’t know the Peter Pan song, “I won’t grow up”, that was my altered version of the first verse.)
I don’t want to grow up. Everyday is great and then I wake up and my lungs flood with worry and anxiety like this claustrophobic air that I can’t stop breathing. Every brain signal says “get a job, pay off loans get a job pay off loans.” while every heart beat says “Catch the next flight to anywhere but here. Drive to the mountains and don’t come back. Find a way to go back to being twenty-one and stay twenty-one forever.”
Life was a hell of a lot easier when I was four. My life was sing-a-longs with mommy, walks under the stars, creating my first vivid memories, getting the worlds most amazing step-dad (okay I was 6 but still). I took naps and said stupid things that were funny and witty because I was a child saying them. Now I say them and I just sound condescending.
I am young at heart and yet an old soul. Does anyone else have this feeling? I want to be eighty and sit on my rocking chair watching my grandchildren and kids. But, I also want to boycott the little pooping monsters and just travel the world and be fifty with a bunch of amazing stories and memories in language I don’t recall. My boyfriend likes to tell me, “You can’t have it all, Sarah.” Maybe I want less choices. Yeah. I think I’d like to go back to being four years old where my mom said, “Do the dishes or go to bed.” Those were my options. Both terrible, but one let me stay up a little longer.
I wish I didn’t go to school. I am actually so grateful that I had the opportunity to go to school and learn something that I happen to be pretty good at and love. However, daily I am confronted with myself in the mirror and all I see is tear filled eyes wondering if I’m ever going to be able to afford a pedicure, a plane ticket, and street food in a foreign country. My net worth was fine until I added in my student loans and now even though I know I’ll have them paid off in a year, my net worth is negative. I KNOW it shouldn’t affect me as much as it does, but frick, my self esteem has dropped, I feel so insecure about everything like my skin, my body, my mind, my hair, my face in general, my skills, my talents, etc, and in turn, I’m negative. I love numbers, but I’ve always been really bad at them. (Just ask my math teacher who had high expectations when this homeschooler joined his class and then slowly understood why she was a year behind in maths.) So when I look at the numbers, yes, I wish I didn’t go to school until I had won a full scholarship or worked my ass off to pay for at least half of it in cash.
I’m a redhead with two amazingly strong and independent parents and a couple of older and younger siblings who are chasing their dreams even when their dreams drag them through the mud for a little while. It takes a lot to make a girl like me feel like a helpless puppet. Somehow, I’ve done it. I feel like everything I do has to be the a high standard damn near perfection. The worst part is that I am the only one setting the bar for myself. I don’t understand why I have this mentality that I have to be better than myself, but that bar is set and its not to societies standards. I’m actually doing alright according to society I think. I’m out of post secondary, I’m job hunting and still serving. But my standards are set to my happiness level and what makes me happy isn’t working in Canada paying off student loans thinking about buying a house and working for the next 43 years. Hell. No. What makes me happy is living and working in a foreign country, struggling with a language barrier and then finally breaking through that barrier. What makes me happy is watching people in a different culture and learning how and why they live the way they do. What makes me happy is hearing sounds of lakes or oceans mixed in with multiple different languages and cultures and children laughing and people selling things.
I am content with where I am in life right now, but I’m not really happy. I’ve had good times this year but I can’t remember the last time I felt joy and just had fun. I have an apartment and books, pay checks and food, privileges that a lot of people don’t have. But I would let anyone take over my life if it meant I took my backpack, two changes of clothes and my passport.
I picked up a hitch-hiker a couple weeks ago on my way back from Jasper. My boyfriend wasn’t impressed so naturally he tuned me out and didn’t listen to a thing I said after the words “I picked up a hitch-hiker.” (for anyone who might warn me about the dangers, stop. I know. I used good judgement, pulled over in a crowded pull out, talked to the guy before he even got in my car and asked all the important questions and trusted my instincts.) He was forty-one and from arizona where he worked seasonally on a dude ranch. He was hitchhiking his way from Alaska to Arizona and taking his time seeing a country that he’d never seen before. In two months he’s probably seen more of the country and met more people than I have in my whole life. He also had been married at twenty-three and divorced at twenty-five. He said he’s never been happier than he was when traveling and discovering the world.
Basically, I don’t really know if I have peter pan syndrome or if its just wanderlust or maybe both. But I do know that when you ask people on their death bed what they regret not doing more of in life, the top answer for years hasn’t been “worked more” or “making more money”. The thing most people wish they’d done more of is “Traveling.”
That’s where I’ll leave you today, world.
All my love, more than you know,