Fun. That’s exactly what one of my friends asked me about a few days ago. The situation was that he was organizing a party, outside, and invited a bunch of colleagues, ex-colleagues and friends of either of us to join. Not a huge group, around a dozen/fifteen people. The usual stuff was the plan: going out to drink, hitting a place with a live concert for a couple of hours and then moving to a proper club to get drunk. The survivors would go on till the mid of the night.
I said no thanks. Which prompted the question of the title.
It’s not the first time I say no to such events. His question then didn’t come out of the blue. I’m not in the least offended or felt judged by it so I’m thankful my friend asked it, actually.
I thus stayed home, on a Friday night, and went to bed relatively early, 23:30. I woke up restored and I got informed that a cousin of my girlfriend would be coming to visit us, at which I caught the chance to invite her and my girl to a breakfast in a, somewhat hipster, café in the city center. Not many people were yet outside but the café was already nearly full (I usually choose pretty popular, even trendy, places to eat out). We chatted for an hour, drank good coffee and had a lovely, organic-bio-veg-lactose-free-whatever-else breakfast and left the rest of the day for our tasks and hobbies.
Well, you may say here that I truly don’t want to have fun. Or, at the very least, my definition of it is different from most people.
It could very well both be. Or not. Either way, the question of my friend sparked a self-reflection in me about what is fun and what does it actually mean to me “having fun”.
I don’t often go to parties. That’s true. I don’t enjoy the noise, the shitty music and the rude people found in clubs, no matter which country I’m at. Besides, ever wondered why clubs are so freaking similar all over the world? They’re like the McDonald’s of going out, you always get the same recipes, just presented differently, no matter which location you choose. A commodity of fun. Amazingly capitalistic.
Anyway, overall clubs aren’t my cup of tea. Yet the few times I went to one in the last couple of years are remembered by me pretty fondly. The excitement of going out, the amount of people doing weird acts or simply dancing till dawn, the quantity of choice of drinks are elements that I enjoy, yes. I don’t actually take much part in the scene, as in dancing or interacting with strangers; mostly I stick with the company I’m with. Yet I am generally happy to go to parties, granted I have a good company that I know already. Sorry but not into meeting a bunch of strangers while they’re drunk. Unless they’re women. But I digress…
Lately my reasons for not going to parties is because drinking is terrible for my stomach and I’m trying to save some money for settling down. With a woman or a home, or both, I don’t yet know but I find it paramount to have some economic safety behind me, at the expenses of a little more fun here and there. It’s a price I’m willing to pay.
So yes, I would go to parties. Occasionally at least. Just not in this moment of my life.
What for most is “fun” is instead terribly boring to me
I can’t stand what is usually considered funny, in the most pure sense. A comic movie can make me laugh 3-4 times throughout it but leave me with a sense of wasted time that erases any fun had during its length. Stand-up comedy is more a form of tragedy to me than a way to pass the time in merriment. Goofy faces among friends are, well, goofy; there’s a reason adults once reproached kids for doing them. Youtube videos in the “fun” category are usually one of the reasons I like the concept ofantinatalism. Sheer stupidity.
Ok, you get the idea.
Usually if there’s not an intellectual side, there’s not some part of the fun activity that makes me think, it becomes boring. Thus, no fun anymore.
I wasn’t like this, I became so. Ask me not why as I am not aware of when and why this transformation occurred. I probably matured too much, I overgrew most of the less “brainy” forms of entertainment. I don’t really know for sure.
Perhaps then, I thought, fun isn’t among the priorities I have. Could be that my age, 37, doesn’t allow space for fun activities. Or that there is a different ladder of priorities now, one more mature, that arose in me without even me realizing. Perhaps, as this Quora answer says, I have an engraved idea of what an adult should behave like and “fun” isn’t really a part of it.
Strangely, most people I know don’t identify me as an “old person” but praise my curiosity and desire of knowledge. I’m always open to new experiences, whenever a friend suggests to do a new, for me, activity, I’m always happy to try it, and genuinely so. Often those plans comes to naught but not due to my fault. Busy people are busy. Understandable.
I am not sure where I stand in this. I do feel attracted by more “adult” ways of entertainment: books, movies, an honest and long chat among friends, table games, spending time in nature, artistic trips, arts of various kinds, concerts. Listening to good music is an activity that I’ve always appreciated. Some of those accompanied me throughout my childhood and later, as reading; others are new, as taking a weekend for hiking or simply walking in a park, weather permitting. Which made me wonder whether I’m actually different than most and thus the meaning I give to having fun is indeed different from most of my age. The grind of partying on Friday (and perhaps on Saturday) night, having guests at home during the week or on a Sunday, drinking at home sometimes seems so vain now that I can’t understand how modern society means of socializing can be mostly reduced to these acts. There should be more.
What I am sure that in any socializing occasion I feel bored and not at ease after 1-2 hours. At most. It doesn’t matter with whom I am, I don’t seem to be able to truly enjoy any act of socialization; inevitably all bore me to death in a couple of hours.
I feel truly old saying this.
I’m not young anymore indeed. I’m approaching middle age. Therefore, the urge to enjoy life’s funniest parts is fading a bit in me and the restlessness for not having reached economical safety for the foreseeable future is on the contrary increasing. Let’s be clear about it: since I mostly stopped going to parties I’ve saved quite a bit of money. Friends used to invite me to eat out, perhaps just for a pizza and I don’t know about you but I can make a huge pizza at home for 3-4€, when instead eating it out wouldn’t even buy me 1. Rinse and repeat 30-40 times per year and avoiding pizzerias can mean saving 200-300€ each year. Go imagine how much more is instead a proper dinner at an average restaurant or a couple of rounds of drinks are at that fancy bar in town…
Therefore yes, money have become more important in my life. Lack of, precisely. I feel way more satisfied knowing that in 5 years I will have saved hundreds of euro than having spent hundreds of hours eating and drinking out. It’s an easy choice for me, it doesn’t generate any doubts inside. Again, a matter of different priorities.
The costs of “not having fun”
Plain and simple: you alienate friends. One declined invite is fine. Two too. Three and the average friend starts thinking if your truly like them at all. Four and they will ask you if everything is ok. Which it actually means “I don’t want to lose you, did I do something wrong?”. I wish people were more direct.
Anyway, you can’t possibly stop going out, stop partying and stop inviting people at home without losing some friends. I see on their faces, they laugh at your jokes as before, they do greet you and are absolutely still polite but they stop, slowly, starting a conversation with you. You are not a priority anymore, they feel your distance and, some due to respect others due to inability to comprehend it, keep it themselves. You’re slowly moving to the back of their brains, while others, more active friends, take the front.
If it sounds sad, it is. Fun is so a huge part of friendship that entire bonds are based on it, not friendships alone but even whole relationships. If we consider that making friends as an adult isn’t easy at all, alienating the ones you already have only because you aren’t on the same “fun frequencies” of them may be indeed a costly choice.
Another cost is swapping experiences for knowledge. By meeting with friends, by going to places together, by having fun with them you collect a good deal of, hopefully, different experiences, pictures, laughs, faux pas, moments of bonding that over time modify what you are, creating a slightly different persona. It is what makes us of a different personality than others, what makes us interesting, primarily. Renouncing to have fun with others means a lot less of these experiences, which may curb your growing up as a person.
In the mean time it’s true that if you focus on yourself you increase a lot your knowledges, and that is also a big part of what constitutes you. A read book more, a new language learned over months of self-studying, a valuable skill for your career, a few hundreds of albums listened…all this makes you a better person, somebody who is indeed more interesting, more functional for today’s world.
Yet by lacking the first-hand experience, by having a small amount of social contacts, by not having experienced enough situations, happy, sad, difficult or just new ones they may be, you’re not on par with those who may have less knowledge by have lived more, have had more interactions with people, have had also more fun.
All is needed and by focusing too much on one aspect creates an imbalance of personality which may be costly as much as losing friends.
Becoming a loner makes you a better person on one side but a worse one on the opposite one. That’s indeed the costlier aspect of renouncing some fun.
I am not at peace with “fun”
That’s the conclusion I came at the end of this article. Fun seems something I am not willing to barter for time to improve myself, nor I can consider it as an improvement, emotionally more than rationally. I am aware of what this will entail in terms of socializing and am aware I may end up regretting the lost time that I didn’t dedicate to having fun in some way yet the pull of adultness and responsibilities is at the moment so strong that is vain to fight against it. And perhaps I shouldn’t.
I hope in the end this period of my life, generally devoid of fun, will be looked back with proudness on what I was able to sacrifice for a better future.
Funny how I came to the conclusion that I am sacrificing for the future by not having much fun. I wrote this post to clear up my mind about the matter and to put order to my thoughts. I realize now that I failed, as I started with a conclusion in mind and came to another, wholly different, one. Nor I had actually much fun writing it. That’s eerily ironic.
Photo Credits: Aziz Acharki, Mauricio Mascaro, Rawpixel.com and Tan Danh