What is fun?

It’s been four-ish months since my birthday and three-ish months since I figured out what I wanted to do with my 27th year on earth. I asked myself three questions, and while I don’t have any complete answers yet, I do have some words (not an exhaustive list), which is a step in the right direction.

The short version:
What makes a family? Connection
What do I want to do with my life? Work. At something.
What is fun and how do I have it? Spontaneous & low-pressure. I don’t understand these things either.

What makes a family? 

The word that comes to mind is connection. At least, this seems to be the thing that has been most satisfying about exploring family in the last three months. Connecting is at the root of my family resolutions–eating dinner together, going on adventures, kissing in the morning & at night. It’s about creating moments, daily and weekly, that bring us together.

What do I want to do with my life? (aka work?)

Trying to write a novel this month has been an interesting exploration of this. I’ve been attempting to write intensely for the past sixteen days, which is one of the things I’ve thought I might want to “do” (as though I can only pick one thing for the rest of forever–a false choice). It hasn’t turned out exactly as I’ve imagined. For one thing, writing fiction mostly makes me want to stab myself with a pen. Nothing is ever comes out as good as I want it to, which makes the whole process extremely frustrating for me. It’s also probably really healthy because forcing myself to work through that perfectionism (without resorting to stabbing) eventually leads to some halfway decent work sometimes. Having picked up an artist’s pencil for the first time in years recently, I’ve also learned that this perfectionism is not limited to writing. Blogging in a tiny corner of the internet doesn’t seem to bother it though.

On the + side, yes, I want more writing and more art in general in the rest of my life. So the word here is yes, and also, work. I realize that doesn’t necessarily answer the question I was trying to ask.

What is fun and how do I have it? 

This is the question I still haven’t found an answer to. Does asking this question suck the fun out of everything? I wonder if some people are just predisposed to have more fun. I find a fun thing to do and immediately figure out how to turn it into work instead. Today for example was full of fun things: art and writing and hanging out with friends discussing books, and I managed to get stressed out about getting off schedule for all the “fun” I was supposed to be having. Screen printing took longer than expected and didn’t go as planned, so I didn’t finish, which put me behind schedule for novel writing, and then I tried to squeeze in a grocery trip before book club and by the end, I’d turned what should have been an enjoyable Saturday into a failed to-do list.

I do have a couple of words about fun though, what I think it might be (not sure if I’ll ever get close enough to fun to prove it).

Fun is spontaneous. It doesn’t seem to work for me to plan out ahead of time what fun things I’m going to do next week because by the time next week actually rolls around, I might want to do something else instead, but then I’ve already committed to this not-fun-anymore-activity when I really just want to be at home reading or cleaning the bathroom (which is another reason why I haven’t figured out fun–cleaning the bathroom always has higher priority). But the times I think I’ve had the most fun have been when some unexpected opportunity has come up, and instead of sticking to my planned routine, I’ve seized the opportunity. Spontaneity.

Fun is low-pressure. I hate karaoke because singing in front of people, even drunken friends, is too much pressure. (I just realized that perfectionism may be impacting my ability to have fun as well as my ability to write without torturing myself–seems like a rather obvious ah-ha moment). And things are fun until there’s too much pressure associated with them. Book club is great fun until I have three homework assignments, albeit incredibly entertaining ones. Talking about feminism and movies and television and great books and random stuff online with friends is fun until I have to actually do something with our ideas, like make a website or share those ideas in a regular, coherent fashion. Derby is fun until I find myself doing more admin work than actually playing, and suddenly people expect way more of me not because of my skating but because I’m a semi-organized, easily-committed person. Then it actually starts to suck.

in fact, things seem to be fun for me until I get good enough at them that they’re actually something that I take seriously (or that others take seriously about me). So there seems to be this fun-line in which I have to be good enough at something to enjoy it (#perfectionism) but not so good at it that I’m expected to deliver results.

So I guess my new questions are, how do I become more spontaneous? And how do I keep fun things low-pressure so that they stay fun?

2 comments

  1. One thing for being able to do things on the spur of the moment is not to schedule too tightly so that you can bump/delay an item because there is time to do it later. And perhaps, you will take after your mother and realize later that something that seemed like more work at the time, was really fun.

    1. @Shoe, I frequently find that things were fun once they were over, but I’d like to learn how to enjoy them while they’re happening too, instead of being stressed out or grouchy instead. It’s an attitude adjustment I’m figuring out.

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