Life & Love

How Do I Learn to Have Fun?


Dear E. Jean: Do you have a guide to having fun? I’m 26. I think I’m missing out. I speak five languages, keep fit, eat healthy, volunteer, and work. I work a lot. And I feel miserable because I don’t know how to have fun. If someone invites me for drinks, I don’t see the point. Why should I waste two hours chitchatting when I could just go home and read, cook, and take a bath?

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I actually love cooking, reading, and knitting. I do yoga and ballet, and my few friends are older than me. There’s so much I want to do! Read more history, write, create my own shirts! And none of it involves having fun. My boyfriend jokes, saying that I have the hobbies of an old lady, and when I go out he calls it my “grandma club.” How do I learn how to have fun? How do I become cool like the people my age? (Confession: I don’t watch TV and can’t name more than 10 movies or singers, because I don’t care.) —An Alien From Mars

My Dearest Girl: How about a game, Miss Mars? Pick the most fun thing on the following list:

Knitting, cooking, reading, ballet, yoga, creating your own shirts, or Girls’ Night Out with a squad of old ladies.

Har-de-har! Fooled ya! They’re all fun—especially the knitting and the shirts. As Albert Einstein said (or was it Helen Gurley Brown?): “If you’re not having fun with clothes, I think you’re missing something.”

Your hobbies are fun, Miss Mars. Every one of them is deliciously, deeply pleasurable. So I’m guessing the fun you’re asking about is the kind of thing that causes you to scream, collapse on the ground, and pound the lawn in helpless mirth.

For this to happen—hold on, you may need to step into the kitchen and brace yourself with the cooking sherry—you must instigate an activity that whips up surprises. You want to be absolutely paralyzed with laughter? Go play a game of tag with your boyfriend in the summer twilight…or roller-skate home from work…or climb a tree without wearing underpants…or speak all five of your languages after sucking on a helium balloon (I don’t know about you, but that would cause me to grip the highboy to stop myself from sagging to my knees in hilarity). Or invite the “grandma club” to compete in the World Championship Spanx Races and award the crown to the old lady who manages (while fully shod and clothed) to get both feet into the leg holes of a small pair of Spanx and “run” across the finish line first.

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As for your second question: How do you “become cool like the people [your] age”? [Sound of chuckling] Your very refusal all these years to be cool makes you cool.

This letter is from the Ask E. Jean Archive, 1993-2017. Send questions to E. Jean at


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