21st Century Progression or Peter Pan Syndrome: Why the Whole World Doesn’t Want to Grow Up

When I was young, I was told to enjoy my childhood while it lasts. Apparently, reaching adulthood signaled the end of fun and excitement and the beginning of my life in the real world, which is full of stress and responsibility.

Now, I am 18 years into life and legally considered an adult, but if I’m being quite honest life has not changed all that much for me. I still unhealthily binge watch TV series on Netflix, eat microwavable food for breakfast, lunch, and or dinner, and I’m currently working on a wallpaper for my room that’s made completely out of coloring pages (It’s really cool, trust me). Most of my weekends are spent watching Disney movies with friends at night, all without the looming threat of bedtime or the interference of my parents  telling me what to do.

Childhood me would have loved this life.

Perhaps the best part about all of these adulthood perks is that it’s considered somewhat socially acceptable for me to do all of these things. I soon realized it wasn’t just me enjoying nostalgic delights, but other 20 and 30-somethings as well. Think about it: the transition from childhood habits to adulthood habits really isn’t that much different. Whereas children eat lunchables full of processed meats and get sugar-rushes off of high-fructose juice boxes, adults have their fancy Hillshire Small plates containing wine-infused salami and artisanal cheeses (Did I mention the juice boxes filled with Merlot?). Adults even have their own coloring books coming out now, which are filled with intricate designs and line art by local artists. Instead of being a way to occupy us while our parents are at work, they’re marketed as stress-relievers and can be a great way to keep those creative and imaginative juices flowing (Although, I will say from personal experience figuring out how you are going to color some of the artwork can be stressful itself, the intention is noble). I mean c’mon! There’s even a section in Barnes & Noble dedicated to the activity of adult coloring — it’s legit.

Perhaps the best example of “childish adult things” is the rise in popularity of adult onesies. My roommate actually owns (like, actually paid money for and wears regularly) s a pepperoni pizza onesie, which looks quite comfy if I do say so myself. Add on the fact that I recently watched the trailer for the upcoming animated movie for adults called Sausage Party and you will see that I am not immune to the allure.

To most, things like this will be labelled as harmless fun or just an instance of exercising one’s personal freedom (because America), but the deeper question still remains — Why this aversion to growing up?  Do we all secretly wish to revert back to our childhood selves, or is something else at play here?

In this bohemian age that glorifies the laid-back lifestyle, many will  argue that is our gravitation toward childlike behaviors and hobbies is just how the world works.. I personally believe that this trend isn’t a brand new societal movement but more like a worldwide case of arrested development. In an article about Peter Pan Syndrome published by Science Daily, it’s discussed how “Peter Pan Syndrome” is not actually considered a real mental disorder but how “an increasingly larger number of adults are presenting emotionally immature behaviors in Western society.” It’s not hard to see why; as children we are taught to believe that once we become adults the world is no longer an enjoyable place to play in but a cold, harsh reality full of daunting responsibilities. And it’s that belief that drives us to react to stress the only way we know how: escapism. We’ll readily crawl back into our pillow forts and spend the rest of our days there if we could. And who could blame us?

In mine and other’s defense, I say go ahead and live how you want; break out the wine juice boxes, cozy onesies and Disney movies. Color freely, my friends! We have entered the era of easy living.

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