Illustrated story,Nostalgia

Happily Never After

Does becoming an adult mean losing the will to dream?

Life is full of jokes. Not the ‘ahhahaha haha hahaha HAHAHAHA’ type but the: it’s raining outside and you have an umbrella and when you open the umbrella it immediately turns inside-out even though you just bought it and, oh, who’s that? Your ex. Damn, it was the wrong day to wear jogging bottoms with ketchup stains on the front and back, I guess.

One of the biggest jokes life can play on you is neglecting to appreciate how great it is to be young until you’re old. Now, I’m not the ripest banana in the bunch but I’m also at the age where I had to explain to a pair of Gen Zers (people born from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s)  who Ashanti and Ja Rule were.

I’m part of the dial-up internet generation, the cassette tape clique, and the encyclopedia gang. I grew up during a time when kids got addicted to Sunny D and then it got banned because it turned out that we were all drinking straight-up sugar with zero nutrients unlike what the ad claimed.

We were however, as many kids are, free.

Yeah, yeah, we didn’t have responsibilities and all of that stuff but that’s not what I mean; I’m talking about freedom to dream.

For example, Disney, arguably the pushers of dreams and imagination, made the concept of Prince Charming seem so appealing and inevitable to kids that many ‘elder’ millennials assumed that this was how relationships worked. As if it was totally romantic to sign away your voice to marry a dude who tried to eat your dad’s best friend who is also a talking crab. I mean, I still love The Little Mermaid but I’m also, how do you say, a hypocrite. I’m also #TeamUrsula, obvs.

When you’re young you’re allowed to have a wild imagination without someone wondering if you might be a potential serial killer and then at some point, an adult tells you something crazy: you can be anything you want to be.

Think about that.

Some adult told you that you can be anything you want to be, and you believed it! But what did you do with that information? Well, if you were an average snotty kid and not Beyoncé, then you probably span around in circles until you made yourself dizzy.

You weren’t interested in learning code, you were interested in eating playdoh and making your parents’ house into the set of Gladiators.

Becoming an adult means coming to the realisation that things like justice, owning a house of your own outright to turn into the Gladiators set, and becoming an F1 driving- background-dancer-for Janet-Jackson  is much like your future husband trying to eat your dad’s friend who is also a talking crab: complicated.

You realise that years of being told that education will guarantee you prosperity turned out to be a ruse.

You date enough people to either wish that women could sign away their voices for 10 minutes a day because they talk. So. Much! Or you decide to marry Netflix because Prince Charming is actually King Trash-Mouth, and like rubbish bins in London they are plentiful and sometimes there’s one on every corner. Also, some of them are dangerous and might for-real murder you but at least you won’t have to look at another unsolicited picture of some dude’s genitals on your phone, ha! Ha…oh.

You learned that nothing is quite what it seems. At some point, you discover what grief is, and sadness, disappointment, and that fairy tales are just that: works of fiction.

Okay so before you start feeling sad and nostalgic there’s something I should tell you.

You might not have the innocence and the blissful ignorance of a kid because life has beaten it out of you, but you do have something better. Even when the news reminds you that the world is on fire, you’re able, at least sometimes, to find pleasure in small things like a businessman karate kicking his way onto public transport.

All the grief, sadness and disappointment -as yucky as it feels -helps you to grow and connect with art, books, and other people. People who make you laugh with your head tilted all the way back. People who think you’re enough just the way you are.  

Having your bubble burst and still managing to find beauty and laughter in the world while being a good friend, a loving partner, a considerate neighbour, a so-so employee, a good parent, a decent son/daughter is much harder than not knowing any different because you still exist inside the bubble.

And if we’re being truly honest with ourselves, when some adult tells you that you can be anything you want to be in life, through the cynicism and self-doubt, there is a part of us -the snotty, dizzy, playdoh eating kid – that isn’t willing to give up on the ability to make our dreams come true.

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