“You don’t stop laughing because you grow old. You grow old because you stop laughing.” -Michael Pritchard

Something really sad happens to us as we grow up. Somewhere along the way from footie pajamas to adulthood, we lose not only our baby fat, but also our whimsy — our ability to dream.

Kids don’t need to be told to delight. They don’t need to be told that they can do anything they want or that the world is lovely or that blanket forts are the best. They run after those things, birthday cake smeared in their hair, with shoes an inconvenient afterthought.

But all of that seems to get removed along with our braces.

Adventures are replaced with lists, love is replaced with pressure (after all, everyone else is married) and our dreams are replaced with a watered down, red-pen covered version- what everyone else thinks is realistically “do-able.”

I started my first real “big girl job” recently and although I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, there are parts that I just didn’t see coming. There’s an underlying pressure (coming straight from me) to be perfect. I want to succeed and never ever look lazy and be the very best at everything that I do. Bills and meetings and answering emails are the name of the game, and although that’s fine and good and exactly what I want in this professional season of my life — it’s also not the end of the story.

Those things don’t have to lie heavily like an x-ray smock, weighing down every moment and squashing out every spark of joy. One doesn’t automatically require the other.

We’re told to grow up and to take things seriously — and that’s important in the right context. But when “serious” just doesn’t have to happen, why would we want it to? The world that we live in is a place that is teeming with delight and beauty and things to snuggle up in with a warm cup of coffee.

As an adult, we get to roam freely in places that are so full of lovely things — things just waiting to be played in, tested out and explored. We have the freedom, but we don’t always take advantage of it. Each day, we must choose between delight and whimsy, and wearing our responsibilities heavily on our chest (and our faces).

Weightiness is not a byproduct of graduation, and the death of our hopes and dreams is not a rite of passage. It just doesn’t have to be that way. Responsibility and being able to rent a car doesn’t come at the price of joy and whimsy and dancing when the moment is right (or even when it’s not).

While we shouldn’t abandon maturity or a refuse to take responsibility, the world does not need to become dark and cold and start to resemble a constant board meeting the second our wisdom teeth come out. No matter how old we get, we should still be able to see that footie pajamas are the very definition of cozy and that blanket forts are the best.

The truth is, joy and laughter and sleepovers with our best friends aren’t things that have to be traded in with your braces. Thick, crushing, adult responsibility isn’t a free gift with the purchase of our first retainer. The world is beautiful and fun and ridiculously funny — and I can’t think of a better way to enjoy it than to tromp around with dreams in our head, cake in our hair and shoes left far behind.

Image via Bits of Beauty


  1. Stephanie, this was officially the first blog post that I read in 2013, and it was so encouraging! Thank you for sharing your heart. I deeply relate to everything that you so beautifully stated in this post. It brought me to tears, but gave me joy all at the same time:) Thank you so much for your lovely words!

  2. Thank you so much for sharing Chelsea! I’m so glad that you’re finding a balance and peace in that balance. Growing up is a beautiful thing and important- but that doesn’t at all mean that it can’t be fun! Something I really like saying and need to hear constantly is ‘you don’t have to do what everyone else is doing.’ I need that reminder often. I hope that your time in grad school is amazing and full of joy and delight- an adventure that is uniquely yours.

  3. At this particular season in my life, I really needed to hear this. Being in my first semester of graduate school after receiving my undergrad this past may and watching all of my friends grow up and get “big girl” jobs has made it difficult for me to find the right balance while entering adulthood. This article calmed my worried spirit. Thank you.

  4. My favorite Darling article to date, now all I can think about is spending my Sunday running after something fun, with cake in my hair and barefoot of course!

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