Fun. Such a loaded word. The weight of expectations disguised as pleasure. Are you having fun? (Because if you’re not, what’s the point?) Are you sharing the fun you’re having on social media? (Because if you’re not, are you even having it?)
We seem to be living in a moment where, if you aren’t having fun (and, perhaps more importantly, documenting it for the world to see) you may fear that you’re missing out.
Fun is one of those big Goals: Have more fun. Create a life that is fun. Finish your work, outsource it, create passive income, become financially independent … so you can pursue fun.
I do sense this general expectation that every experience must be made to be fun, but doesn’t the pressure to enjoy oneself defeat the purpose?
Running a business isn’t always fun. Being a mom isn’t always fun. But darn it if we collectively don’t try to convince the world (and ourselves?) that it’s all rainbows and glitter. You know what’s not fun? Cleaning up glitter.
How do each of us define fun? It’s some sort of esoteric idea, a subjective objective. What’s fun for me is different than what’s fun for you (maybe you enjoy sweeping up glitter?). It also seems as if we are always in hot pursuit of each other’s #FunGoals – egged on by the frothy images on social media.
As if acknowledging and labeling it diminishes the true spirit of the feeling. (Remember Monica from Friends nervously leaving a voicemail for her ex, Richard: “I’m breezy!” Horrified reaction from Joey: “Hey, you can’t say you’re breezy! That totally negates the breezy!”)
When we catch ourselves having fun, we can’t always hang onto it. It’s easy to overthink it, to try to grasp it. Maybe that’s why we’re quick to try to capture it on camera – as proof.
While being away from home and out of our natural element was at times stressful, I noticed my moments of pure joy laughing with friends, sitting on the porch with the baby happily on my lap not trying to squirm away, drinking rosé as the sun went down, reading a lighthearted book before bed.
Two thoughts crossed my mind the instance my consciousness went to: “I’m having so much fun!”
As soon as I noticed I was having fun, it was as if I stepped out of it. I started anticipating the end of the moment, knowing it wouldn’t last. Friends would leave, the baby would wriggle away, the sun would set and eventually I’d have to go to sleep. The fun was slipping out of my fingertips the more I dwelled on it.
This second thought is perhaps the reason why we feel the urge so strongly to document—to preserve—the fun times.
My dad takes pictures of everything when he travels. So much so, that if we’re walking through town together, I have to circle back and urge him to catch up. He’s not on social media at all – these are for himself. He goes to the store and prints them out and creates volumes of albums with photos, ticket stubs, coins and mementos. He’s about two years behind in his cataloguing, but that’s part of the ongoing fun of the trip for him. He gets to relive the experience all over again.
In high school, I took a ton of photos on cheap disposable cameras that I got developed at one of those (now nonexistent) huts in the supermarket parking lot. In college, I don’t think I took any photos – likely out of laziness – and so I completely relied on others to capture the memories. My will to photograph and document didn’t fire up again until I got an iPhone in late 2013 (yes, I’m a late bloomer), and then it really hit full steam ahead when my son was born last year.
But life is different today than it was in high school, and we not only take photos to preserve the fun for ourselves, but also because there’s an expectation that we need to share just how much we’re having with our followers.
This silly circular logic occurred to me while enjoying an afternoon not long ago:
Well yes, of course it did. I was living in the moment, not thinking about posting it on social media. Then I thought: maybe the people who are having the most fun, aren’t posting about it because they are busy enjoying the fun in real life. My mind is blown.
The best we can do is feel the joy in the moment and be grateful. We can only live in the moment, so I will aim to be present, soaking in everything around me minute to minute. I will let go of the pressure to document, preserve, share the fun we experience, and only photograph what feels natural, when I think of it, when I want to do so, when it’s fun.
Hannah Lowe Corman is a painter and yoga teacher in NYC inspired by nature, movement and meditation. She has a young son, and she is working on figuring out this whole new mom/entrepreneur lifestyle, which is overwhelming. Follow her on Instagram and on Facebook. Make sure to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in being considered for one of her 2018 painting commissions.
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