What is it about growing up that makes adults want to revert back to days when they were kids?
I was standing in a craft store, looking at a display of wine-shaped sippy cups and adult coloring books when I really saw it for the first time: We, as a society, are reverting back to preschool behaviors. It's everywhere.
Every day I see grown, responsible, autonomous adults go online to brag about how many steps they've taken and whine about how much trouble they're having "adulting." Superhero movies are at peak popularity, as are funny footie pajamas and cartoons created exclusively for adults.
It's undeniable that our generation is clamoring for childhood in a way we haven't before, but why?
It'd be very easy to dismiss this wave of juvenile comforts a reaction of our generation not knowing how to handle adulthood. My first thought when I saw what was going on was that maybe we're hiding out in our childhood comforts because we just don't want to deal with this tumultuous world we've been handed and don't know how to remedy.
With our economic woes, constantly confrontational online interactions, ongoing civil unrest, and unprecedented 24/7 bad news coverage, no wonder Snuggies, TV-binges, and bacon are all the rage these days.
However, ultimately, I don't believe this is us opting to regress or retreat. What's more obvious is that, as a society, we're finally allowing ourselves freedom from these inherited ideas that we have to uphold certain appearances or behaviors in order to be successful as adults, and instead, giving ourselves permission to feel comfortable and happy, just like we felt when we were kids.
We're flipping the bird to all these long-held pretenses of decorum and, instead, allowing ourselves to color outside of the lines while using the entire box of crayons for a change. So, despite rolling my eyes when I hear my peers using nouns as verbs ("I can't brain today!"), I don't actually think this trend of hanging onto childhood pleasures is negative. Quite the opposite, in fact.
If you zoom out and look at the scope of this new social norm, you'll notice that, within all its incarnations across varied demographics, the one consistent in this trend is that it encourages play.
From cosplay to color/mud runs to gyms hosting hooping classes, the mainstream is into indulging creative playfulness for a change.
Art galleries are inviting people to come drink wine while basically doing paint-by-number. Women's roller derby has had a sustained renaissance in the last decade. I could list examples for pages, but the point is that we as a whole are not just opting to turn ourselves into lazy, incapable infants; instead, we're choosing to revisit the time in our lives when we were uninhibited in our creative expressions and physicality.
Just like when we were little, experiencing creative play and indulging in foods or environments that make us feel comfortable are all ways we take care of our health in a real, sustainable way. We're taking the time to clear our minds, engage with our creative selves, get active, and tend to our physical needs.
As a whole, we are excusing ourselves from the stresses of keeping up appearances 24/7 and, instead, remembering what it feels like to enjoy ourselves without restriction or pretention. It's good for us to step outside our ridiculous expectations of perfection to just enjoy something we genuinely feel happy doing, no matter how unproductive it is.
For a long time, it's seemed like the only way adults could genuinely let loose in public is when mind-altering substances were featured, but more and more, our social gatherings shift focus away from just another excuse to drink.
I fail to see how attending events like Comic Con, Disney's Dapper Day or the Punkin Chunkin World Championship is less respectable, mature, or worth getting excited over than a Booze Cruise or Oktoberfest. Choosing to attend events that expand our minds and aren't contingent on varying degrees of destructive behaviors is progress, no matter how you slice it. (Although, that we get to enjoy a drink while we enjoy things we did as kids is just icing on the cake.)
While you won't see me shelling out cash for a local Wine-and-Coloring-Books Night anytime soon (I can do that for free. In my house. Pants optional.), this trend of embracing childhood joy, exploration, comfort, and play is something I'm delighted to see from us as a society, regardless of the cause. I'm a fan of rewriting the rules for how adults "should" act.
No matter how old we are, pure, nourishing comfort will never stop helping us recharge our batteries. If making myself a PB&J to eat in a bubble bath or making a blanket fort in which to watch my favorite movie for the 7,000th time is what revitalizes me and allows me to be a healthy, positive member of society, I'm not at all ashamed to keep it up.