“and i still won’t grow up. i’m a grown ass kid.”
relevant words from kanye by way of toys ‘r us. (ugh, i miss the old kanye.) myriad articles have been written about my generation’s “infatuation” with all things nostalgia. yes, things are shit right now, and nostalgia can be used as a means of escape. we’re supposed to “grow up” or whatever, but what does that even meeeean? a lot of us are still paying bills, holding down a job, flirting with the idea of exercise, and just generally being inundated with different responsibilities. so i’m confused...am i not grown because i love things from my childhood?
am i not grown because i still watch cartoons? here at PLAYGROUND hq, shows like fairly odd parents, jimmy neutron, doug, spongebob squarepants, and hey arnold deserve emmys in our not-so-humble opinions. they are required viewing. i frequently lament how the kids of today don’t know good television or even good viewing habits. do they know what “one saturday morning” is? snick? that “must see tv” is actually friday night on disney channel with a new lizzie mcguire episode? nah, these kids missed out. there was no “on demand”. there was tivo but i don’t think i knew anyone who actually had it. this was the era of you snooze, you lose when it came to tv. parents want to take you to their friend's house for dinner when your favorite show comes on? tough. get home late because you had a basketball game? better luck next time. you had to wait for a rerun and hope that you’d even be around to watch it. good fucking times.
as i wax poetic about the struggles of television viewing in the 90s and early 00s, i think about why nostalgia is such a thing for us. sure, being an adult has its moments, its privileges, its autonomy. but there are these heavier burdens that we have to deal with that our “predecessors” did not. (so i’m actually going to need those from previous generations to have little to no opinions about our lives and the way we choose to live it.) i won’t list every single difference because most of us are pretty well-acquainted with them by now, but even unplugging is a chore. everyone, not at all limited by generation, talks of unplugging. even gen-z. but compared to them we actually know what that feels like because back in our early years, that was just life. so for us, just mentally and emotionally connecting with that time period gives us the feels, serving as a reprieve from all the shit of today.
but there is another element to this--could it be that our interest in nostalgia and things from when we were growing up follows a different trend--one related to our desire to define things on our own terms? to strive to be our truest selves no matter our environment? we don’t feel like we have to subscribe to the ideals, values, cultures, overall life mechanisms of our predecessors. we’re embarking on this evolution of how we “do” life. we are people that have seen how and why certain mistakes were made. and there are many of us that want to live differently and have every intention of not repeating those mistakes. unlike biological evolution, this is elective. as we subconsciously (or consciously) start this journey, we redefine what success means, what family means, hell, what life means. all these things that had a very standard definition, we are flipping the script on. and there are many people that will look at this and attempt to assign to it an immaturity or childishness--that we don’t follow the rules because we simply don’t like them. but it’s not that. shit, we’re almost too cognizant. with many things we take such a mature and considered approach. we question why things have been done a certain way, especially if it has led to issues; mainly the ones that effect the way we live, survive, and coexist. we challenge these ideas in the hopes that we can create something better. and generally just more fulfilling.
just because i’m grown doesn’t mean i have to stop living. just because i’m grown doesn’t mean i have to stop being me. growing up is a process, and for those able to navigate it successfully, it’s also an art in evolution. i will play and i will eat. but i will also work and i will exercise. it should go without saying that these dichotomous acts are not mutually exclusive in life. but the idea of taking the former away and being left with the latter because i’m an adult sounds like life is not really being lived; it’s merely being sustained. yeahhhhhh miss me with that shit.
there's an authenticity that we have as kids that we usually lose as we enter into adulthood--i think they call it innocence. we live in a very edited world--sometimes good, sometimes not so good. but channeling that raw authenticity is what reminds us of who we really are, what we really want, and how we aim to leave a mark. the pile up of bullshit has created a generation that wants to do more. but if more is going to be done, it will be done on our terms.
so just because i watch cartoons doesn’t mean i am any less of an adult. my tv viewing habits actually represent this juxtaposition in a nutshell. i’m watching cnn and checking in on the news. of course it’s usually trash and fucking depressing. so where’s hey arnold? if i’m going to be burdened as much as i am, better believe that i am going to seek these new definitions...of career, of life, of enjoyment, and what it means to be grown to make it just a bit more palatable. and what it means to be grown right now for us is doing what we want, and refusing to make apologies for it. even if the world wants to say i act like a child because of it.
so if that means renting a bounce house for a day simply because i feel like it, i’m with it.