I am not FUN.

I’m thinking about things that are fun.

This is not something I am proud of or like to admit.  It is not the first thing I tell someone when I meet them or what my name badge says underneath my name.  It is my dirty little secret.  It is this:  I am not fun.  At least, not the commonly accepted notion of fun.

You see, my husband is really fun.  This is what drew me to him, part of the reason I love him and lots of the reason my kids love him.  I remember when I first met him and he had a group of about 6 (really awesome) girls who were his close friends. When we would do things together, they would always tell me how lucky I was to have him because he was SO FUN.  Sometimes he would tease me and tell me I am a “grandma” because I like to:  go to bed early, think deeply, read, go home rather than stay out late and refrain from bodily injury or needlessly embarrassing myself.   Well, I am aware that  America does not idolize people like me, and that being a badass in this culture is considered pretty fucking cool.  I have never been the girl who swung from chandeliers, dropped out of helicopters, recorded a narcissistic video for the admissions committee or rallied the troops for an all-nighter.  Yeah, no.  But I used to wish that I was more like that.  There are even websites dedicated to teaching you how to be more fun.  How sad for all those kids (and grown-ups even) out there who are constantly pushed to be someone they are not.

I adore my friends who are fun.  They love to party, stay out late, host huge soirees, do adventure races and create elaborate competitions and festivals.  I have so much fun hanging out with them and being with them because they are FUN.  My 8 year old daughter is FUN.  She loves fun, dreams about fun, thinks about fun and engages in FUN.  Her every day is in pursuit of FUN.  When my husband is away, my eleven year old tells me, “Things are fine when dad is away, just not as fun.”

Very coincidentally, Gretchen Rubin wrote about this today on her blog for the Huffington Post.  She states emphatically  that just because something is fun for other people does not mean it is fun for you.  She cites examples of things that are fun for other people but are simply not fun for her such as cooking, drinking wine, shopping and skiing.  And that she finds it really hard sometimes to be “just Gretchen” and be true to the things that she really enjoys doing.  Some examples of things that others find fun but I don’t:

Sledding:  I love sledding when it’s just my family but when there are other kids around I worry about things like head injuries and lawsuits.

Drinking until ridiculously drunk:  Never something you look back on as a highlight of your life, it’s usually when you do something really stupid.

Kid games:  Being dyslexic,  learning new games is painfully difficult for me.  Those page-long instructions are torture.  But I love charades, Apples to Apples, I Spy and other simple games.

Team Building Exercises or Competitive Team Building Exercises:  People get crazy and ruthless and all Mad Max and shit.  Really?

Video games:  Don’t really get it.  Especially if they are violent and bloody: yikes.

After reading Susan Cain’s book, “Quiet:  The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,”  I realized that it is perfectly okay to be the way I am after spending a lot of time wishing I were more fun.  That I could somehow force myself to be the life of the party.  That I could be the “fun” parent.  But you know what?  It’s okay.  My kids are lucky to have parents who are different and provide alternate ways to be in the world.  My husband has a confidante who thinks deeply about all kinds of issues.  And my wonderful friends, of all stripes, I get to enjoy and bask in their uniqueness.  Things I find fun and recharging, (which Susan Cain calls “sweet spots”)  include reading a great book, spending time with people I love over a glass of wine, shared laughs with small groups of friends, watching my kids play with abandon, going for a run with my dog, a bike ride with my husband, writing a good story, snowshoeing in silent whiteness, the irreverence and joy of people who are not like me and happy hour with my husband.

I know, crazy-wild shit like that.

You know what?  I am changing the title of this post to “I am Fun.”  My own kind of fun.  Fun is not universal:  We don’t all like the same foods or movies or whatever.  Why should we all think the same things are fun?

What’s fun for you?

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Being true to myself in the ‘burbs.

“There are three things extremely hard: steel, a diamond, and to know one’s self.” – Benjamin Franklin

Photos courtesy of Barbara Paulsen of Mt. Hood MaMa Iphoneography.  Her photos are incredibly fun.

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My T-Shirts

It occurs to me that when I am in different places within that place I call home, suburbia, I wish other people knew what I was thinking.  Maybe I am preoccupied with a conversation I am having.  Or I am angry about being cut off after being on hold for twenty minutes.  Frequently, I am just afraid to say what’s on my mind.  With all this discussion about the brain and social networks, I wonder why I hold some of these things back.  (Honestly, some of them actually should be held back).  Here is what my t-shirts would say in some completely random or maybe not so random sites:

At the gym:

Do not talk to me unless you already know me.  Even then, let’s keep it brief.

At the yoga studio:

I am not being standoff-ish.  This is one of the few times I have for myself and I value the silence.

At a meeting for a charity organization:

What I have to say is important, even if I do not speak for long and sometimes my face gets red.

When I come home from work:

I love you all, but I have been giving and giving and giving and I just need to sit down under a blanket.  Making dinner is the last fucking thing in the world I want to do right now, but I will do it , dammit.

At the supermarket:

No, I am not going to take off my sweats and put on make-up.  To be here.  With you.

With my close friends:

I couldn’t live without you.   You are my lifeline to the world.

With people I want to be my friends:

I may say something silly and my face might get red and I hope I am not trying too hard.  Will you be my friend?  I really think you are pretty cool.

With people who are friends but not necessarily confidantes:

I am still a little nervous around you.  I don’t quite trust you yet.  Bear with me.  You are super duper and I like you.

At a party:

Parties make me a little uncomfortable, I prefer smaller groups.  But this is really fun.  Let’s talk about something amazing.

In a confrontational situation:

Eek.  Get me out of here.  I hate confrontation, but I will kick your ass if need be.

On my bike:

Lalalalalala….love, wind and speed!!!

During my period/premenopause/other hormonal shifts:

Stay. the. fuck. away.  Come close I need you!

At work:

I wish I could do something more than I do to help you.  I want to know more about you, but I don’t want to pry.

With my husband (really too many to put right here):

I need some space right now.  Even though I seem bitchy, it really has nothing to do with you.  You are my safe place to land, and sometimes that means you get the worst of me.  You are the best man I have ever known.

With my sisters:

You are entirely different than me, and I am baffled that we grew up in the same house.  Sometimes I can be a know-it-all, and I am sorry.  I love you.

With my dog:

You are so human. Thanks for worshipping me.  Sorry I forgot to feed you breakfast.

With my children (again, too many to mention):

I may be yelling right now, or on the computer, or reading the paper, or writing.  But you are always my priority and I will never stop loving you completely, desperately and with all my heart.  And please, for the love of God, I do not want to play “Sorry” again.

To all my communities and all my social networks:

I need you.