Publisher - April 2021
“We don’t stop playing because
we grow old; we grow old
because we stop playing.”
— George Bernard Shaw —
I’m beyond ready to lift the weight of the world off my shoulders! I’m sure you are, too. Life as a parent, daughter, business owner, bill-payer and generally responsible adult is hard, and last year made it worse. As such, the little bit of playfulness I had left that adulting had not extinguished, burned out quickly.
Many experts agree that playing is not a luxury, but a necessity. But of course, they are referring to children. Didn’t George Bernard Shaw say youth is wasted on the young? Despite not having done any research, nor having any credentials in psychology, I’m going to declare that play is a necessity for adults, too.
We all need to put out our “Caution: Adults at Play” sign and resolve to live a playful life.
During the first 13 or so years of our lives we are commanded to go outside and play; it is our job. I don’t know about you, but I played my heart out as a child. I played house, school, Colored Eggs, Mother May I, Red Rover, Simon Says, Freeze Tag, Red Light/Green Light, Jacks, Chinese Jump-rope, Hide and Seek and so much more. I also road my bike, skateboarded, jumped on the Pogo stick, jumped rope, swung the lemon twist around my ankle a million times, did cartwheels and round-offs in the yard and flips into my bean bag. On rainy days, I built a fort in the opening under the desk in the den by taping a sheet to the desk on one side and draping it over a chair on the other. I pretended, I imagined, I dreamed. I made up and performed shows with my friends; we even hung up sheets so we could come out of the curtain for our performances. We sang into hairbrushes in the living room, listening to albums on the stereo, and made up dances for extra laughs. And then there were slumber parties almost every weekend, or at least spend-the-nights, where we would giggle until the wee hours of the morning.
All of that was so much fun, and most of it came to a halt right around entering high school. According to an article written by Margarita Tartkovsky for Psych Central, “Our society tends to dismiss play for adults, perceiving it unproductive, petty or even a guilty pleasure.”
I work way more than I play, which makes what little free time I have not feel free. Even when I’m not working, I am inundated with tasks that loom over me so much so, I feel as though I have forgotten how to play, or even be playful. This makes life difficult for me because my inner child is a goofball. I love to play, joke, be silly and laugh. If these things aren’t a part of my life, I’m not whole.
You’ve heard the old proverb, “All work and no play makes Jill a dull girl,” right? In hearing it a thousand times over the years, I always defined the word “dull” in this saying as not being interesting to others. After being on lockdown for the last year, I’ve discovered the word “dull” refers to being dull to your own self—a sad and empty feeling. Many of us are dealing with feeling dull on the inside, including me, and it is heavy.
Covid and all the division in America has created a constant heaviness, which weighs us down whether we were cognizant of it or not. Many gained weight while being in quarantine, and it’s not a coincidence: When you feel heavy, you get heavy. This is in direct opposition from what Cyndi Lauper taught us—Girls just wanna have fun! Us 80’s girls know Cyndi has a point.
I understand life is a balance, and it’s not always going to be fun, but in order to have a healthy mindset, it has to include some fun. Dr. Scott G. Eberle, Vice President for play studies at “The Strong” and editor of the “American Journal of Play” says, “We don’t lose the need for novelty and pleasure as we grow up.” Play brings joy. And it is vital for problem solving, creativity and relationships.
As adults, it’s imperative to make time to play and have some fun. On March 11, we here at Pink hosted the Pink Partini in Hilton Head. It was the first one in months. The vibe was off-the-charts happy. Ladies were thrilled to be out, socializing, dancing, laughing, connecting. I was thanked over and over again for having the party and told how much it meant. Partini guests always enjoy the party, as we used to hold it every month pre-covid (and we will again!), but this particular Partini was like a giant gulp of air when one finally reaches the surface and realizes she may not drown. A psychology lesson unfolded right in front of us and taught us how much we need to socialize and play.
Options for pure fun are limited for adults—the slides just aren’t as big as they used to be. But, with a little imagination, we can all escape the dogma of daily duties. Here are a few ideas to help:
Surround yourself with playful people: Nothing brings you down like constant seriousness. Stop talking about covid, politics, gas prices and work. There is no room for negativity in playing; it takes away all the fun. Find a fun—or funny—person, or group, and get together. If you can’t find anyone, make a pact with your significant other (or whoever you spend time with) to have game night, or watch a comedian. Turn the music up and dance, sing into your hairbrush, Google jokes and read them to each other. Become the playful person people want to surround themselves with.
Stop and smell the roses: Quit being so concerned about the destination. If there’s something interesting along the way, stop and check it out, even if you have to turn the car around. Don’t let life get away from you as you zoom from one task to the next; always stop and buy the boiled peanuts! Those roadside stands are filled with future memorable moments.
Bend the rules: Ever since I met Mary Shanahan (see her story on page 29), I have wanted to play golf with her. She is the club champion at her golf club, so obviously she is serious about golf, but that doesn’t deter her from veering off the proverbial cart path occasionally. She and her friends have extra fun by adding games and wacky rules when they’re just out there to have fun. I’ve always been too worried about if my shot was good to even think about adding fun. Playfulness requires adding fun, and that requires thinking outside the rigid box.
There are many things you can do to add play and fun to your life if you only let the things dragging you down go—even temporarily. Playing is not a waste of time, and it offers serious health benefits. It can actually improve your productivity! Give yourself permission to play. Be silly. Have fun. Just think how happy our country would be if we all simultaneously lightened up. That probably won’t happen, but you can definitely make it happen in your life by adding play to your day! What are you waiting for? Go outside and play.