Your Peter Pan Syndrome - Making It Work for You
My friend Jackie, traveling the world for almost 20 years - the best Peter Pan... ever
I want to help you address a growing problem in America I keep reading about. To determine if you’re at risk, answer the following:
- Have you learned to say “no,” although someone may disagree, even be disappointed?
- Do you believe you deserve what you want?
- Do you keep the prospect of fun as a high priority?
- Do you often not know what to do next?
- Do you sometimes ignore problems or put off solving them, because you’ve seen that often they go away on their own or work themselves out without your intervention?
- Does your enthusiasm for “stupid stuff” (like the science behind why shoelaces get untied) make people think you might be a little crazy?
- Do you work toward long-term big dreams, even though you know they may outlive you, or in spite of how unrealistic those dreams might be?
- Do you prefer to live in your head more than in the “reality” especially as defined by news outlets?
- Are you more intrigued by the journey (the process) rather than the destination (the outcome)? Do you do some things just because you never have never done them before, without a real goal or expectation of a particular outcome. In fact, you’re pretty sure you’ll fail?
- Do you work hard by your own definition of the term rather than by that of other people’s?
I’ve got some bad news for you. If you have answered yes to these questions, you have Peter Pan Syndrome.
Some months ago, my former boss of 10 years whom I admire more than anyone I know, posted online that I had a Peter Pan complex.
Rather shocked (since it was my ex-husband, not I, who always chose Halloween costumes with tights), I looked up the characteristics. People with the syndrome
- Avoid responsibility
- Believe they deserve whatever they want
- Think fun is a very important thing in life
- Focus on fantasy more than reality
- Never know what to do next
- Tend to ignore or put off problems
- Some people think they are crazy
- Bet on long-shot dreams
- Live in their head rather than the real world (whatever that means)
- Don’t feel there’s any reason to accomplish anything
- Get attention through negative behavior
- Are lazy slackers
I am fully confident that laziness wasn’t my ex-boss’ implication in his post, given that I joyfully worked my ass off for him for 10 years. The rest, well, I think he got me.
For the record, in spite of all the articles by self-anointed experts, the Peter Pan Syndrome is not currently considered a psychopathology, since the World Health Organization has not recognized it as a psychological disorder.
The “condition” is usually dished out by people with conventional lifestyles who can’t really hold any other lifestyle as real.
Those few studies that exist by actual mental health experts define the Peter Pan Syndrome as largely a "man’s disease” which should set off anyone’s misogynist alarms in the same way the word “hysteria” should.
The nature of articles on the subject makes the condition look suspiciously more like a theory based on societal constricts (particularly the ideals of women and professionals who would try to "fix" such men.
Conventional expectations of men are bleeding into what society expects from “grown-up” women as we gain economic parity: mortgages, motherhood, material wealth, stress and career status.
My favorite bullet item is the slacker characteristic.
Many people think any work that you admit you love doing must not be work.
I have built this website, researched and written weekly blogs for four years, authored two books (planning two more), learned a second language to conversational level, and stayed up late many a night reading excruciating materials about SEO and fixing broken links.
My friends still remark that it must be nice not to have worked in four years.
Slacker. Guilty as charged.
What does this have to do with Mexico (to keep true to the mission of this site, I always feel I have to answer the question)?
As a Peter-Pan living in Mexico, you will find the culture quite enabling to your addictive need for attention.
In Mexico, whether it’s their mother, grandmother, a foreigner or an attractive woman that Mexicans are seeing in you (you never know), your presence is politely acknowledged here in Mexico no matter how old you are.
Mexicans tend to see, as in take-in, whomever they are looking at. Maybe they just have more time to notice their surroundings. Even bus drivers typically look at those who board square in the eyes when they can.
Until you can move to Mexico, my suggestion to you as a Peter Pan is that you re-frame the definition, since writers on the subject assign definitions anecdotally rather than through any actual science.
As an example of more positive re-framing, my ex-husband had all of the conventional characteristics of a “grown-up;” the stress, the career, the mortgage. I viewed him as a Peter Pan both because he wore tights on Halloween and lived by what I thought the Peter Pan Syndrome was:
Keep adventuring and stay not a grown-up “ - M.J. Barrie, “Peter Pan.”
M.J. Barrie is the original source on Peter Pan. Maybe she's who should ask first.
Most recent: Don't forget your Google searches need to be in Spanish for those little incidentals like your medicines if you really expect to get what we've gotten used to calling "search results".
Next up: If you've read it once, you've read it a dozen times. The key clichés in Expat interviews and what they are really trying to tell you.
About the author:
Hola, I'm Kerry Baker and author of two books, the "Interactive Guide to Learning Spanish Free Online, a curation of the best free Spanish language tools on the web, curated into lesson plans by level.
Don't become an expat who speaks no Spanish! Use the Guide to create different lesson plans every day, or use the lesson plans provided in the book and the interactive links to resources you'd never find on your own. Study from your laptop or e-reader (I love my Acer Aspire, slim, lightweight and perfect for the two-country lifestyle.)
"If Only I Had a Place" on renting luxuriously in Mexico for less. The book is your guide to a fluid system of renting the best places for less, with the cultural insights to get the most for the least. The book includes a listing of rental concierges for all the most popular expat areas.