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?
“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.