I was speeding down the freeway, headed to a go-kart driving, laser-tag shooting, pizza place explosion of preteen entertainment. I was late. I was ambivalent.
“I should go. Volunteer appreciation. I RSVPed. They are counting on me. I probably will have fun. I probably will make really great friends. My life will probably be forever altered in an epic night of bonding over activities that I don’t care about. This time I might really enjoy feeling out of place with a laser gun. Yeah, uh huh. I should go.”
I did not want to go.
But I had been wondering a little bit, “Is my life stuck?” I have these rhythms and routines—a week can fly by and I find myself trying to figure out what I did with it and who I interacted with in a way that actually mattered.
Do you ever feel that way? Swept up in the ordinary and about 253 miles outside of that place where everyone else connects all the time and just enjoys each other…without trying?
I called my mom mid-drive and laid out the situation for her: why I was late and why I was driving now (I’d been reconnecting with a friend from out of town; it had been over a year since we talked, and that left a lot to be said. Our time had run long).
“Katy,” my mom said, “Please tell me you are turning around your car to go relax this evening.”
“What about fun?! I think I am supposed to be having more fun right now! This is the time in my life when fun things should be happening!!!”
I said it with such conviction—like fun was mile 26 in a marathon or a car I was making monthly down payments on—I just need to keep pushing for it and I could get there.
“Yeah, because that all sounds like a lot of fun,” my mom mused.
I laughed. When did fun become so high stakes, Katy Johnson?
Somewhere in all of my adulting, fun has become something I think too hard about.
To be fair, adult life can feel like a hard space—whether you’re single, married, holding down a brood of children or empty nesting. Friendships look different and form differently, pressures and responsibilities take up more space in day-to-day reality, and difficult and hurtful things seem to happen more regularly. They just do.
All of that sounds like a perfectly decent excuse to not have fun. Or to worry about fun. Except that all also sounds really boring and awful.
Life comes with real pain, real emotional strain, relational hardship, real financial worries and and real fears.
But when did I decide those things get to seize my laughter, or the way my eyes twinkle when I’m keeping a secret? Why would I ever connect my joy with such circumstances?
This summer, I want to choose laughter more.
For me, laughter can mean a lot of things: beach days filled with a friend; too many books; and some inadvertent sunburn, work pranks, dinner parties around my table, drinks with someone new, shared plates of pancakes on Saturdays after race training, improv nights and outdoor concerts and cups of coffee on the outdoor patio as the sun sinks low and the lightning bugs come round.
Fun isn’t really about fabricating an event that feels significant. Fun is about embracing the goodness of my life without justifying any of it. It’s impractical, and a choice to live with relaxed gratitude instead of worry regarding changes I can’t control or time.
When I hung up the phone that night talking with my mom, I turned around, drove home and went to the beach to watch the sun set. I didn’t want to play laser tag with strangers… that sounded pretty dumb. I decided fun is more about saying yes to things that make me happy, and not overthinking the happiness.
Katy Johnson lives, dreams, writes, and edits in a messy, watercolored world. She’s a 27 year old, discovering her hope, her longings, and the wild spaces in her own heart. Her favorite creative project right now is called The Someday Writings, and someday, she may let those writings see the light of day. For now, she shares her thoughts here.