You don’t have to grow up (not entirely)

Here is a conversation I have with myself quite regularly:

ME 1: You are too immature. Writing children’s books and collecting children’s illustrations and cards and prints. Really! It’s time you grew up.

ME 2: But David Walliams hasn’t grown up. And he’s written several bestselling children’s books.

ME 1: It’s OK for David Walliams. It’s not OK for you.

ME 2: You’re right; who do I think I am? Mind you, there’s also Enid Blyton and Dr Seuss and Roald Dahl. They didn’t seem to have any problem with not growing up totally.

ME 1: I’ve told you before. It’s not a problem for other people, especially if they are rich and successful. It’s not OK for you though. You are skint and not very successful. You need to grow up, get a job, get married, buy a house, and stop dreaming about doing silly things.


ME 1: Those are The Rules. End of conversation.

ME 2: Oh [slumps off feeling dejected].

Why it is that I have one rule for other people and one rule for myself? Where have these rules come from? Do other people have them?

Looking around me right now there are quirky illustrations and colourful cards and prints everywhere; Blu-tacked to my walls, sitting on bookshelves, and propped up next to my computer. To my left, my bookshelf is full of children’s picture books and novels.

This is who I am.

So, without getting too deep and meaningful here, why the hell am I beating myself up for being me?

I can’t really answer that one expect to say that I think a lot of us don’t embrace who we really are; we conform and mould ourselves into being someone else.

But it never really works, does it? Because deep down we know we’re betraying ourselves.

My literary heroes never did this. Dr Seuss. Roald Dahl. They were who they were. And that’s that. ‘Deal with it’ was their attitude.

So time for a rethink:

I am an adult. I live in an adult house. I wear adult clothes. I have adult friends… it’s just that I happen to be a very playful adult. I haven’t lost that childhood sense of the absurd, the irreverent, and the silly.

And that’s a good thing as far as I’m concerned.

So I’m not ‘immature’. I’m not ‘childish’. I’m playful.

The next time I have a conversation with myself, I am going to remind myself of this in no uncertain terms.

20 thoughts on “You don’t have to grow up (not entirely)”

  1. Well said my dear! We never achieve success or more importantly, happiness, by trying to be that which we are not! And there us a bug difference between being childlike, which can be a beautiful state if openness and wonder, and childish!


  2. Oh my word, you’re bang on here. I have conversations like this with myself all the time. I’m finally accepting the fact that I’m always going to have silly ideas, and that if I don’t do anything with them then eventually I’ll explode in a stressy mess. So why fight it anymore. It helps me to remind myself, “If they can do it, so can I.” And “Somebody’s got to do it.” And “I can do fun and silly things and still be a grown-up.”


  3. Good for you! Stand up to the internal bully…! ;-) I also like the idea of being “childlike” rather than “childish”. We need more players in the world, not fewer – so keep going!!


  4. Yup, child like instead of childish is the way ;-) Never be afraid to use your imagination, and don’t worry too much about where it takes you as long as nobody gets hurt. . . I think it is the most important thing we as humans possess.
    But then I suppose I would say that, as I get paid to draw funny animals, which does call into question my assumed position of objective advisor. . ;-)


  5. How about distinguishing between ‘adult’ and ‘grown up’? Personally, I don’t see any benefit in growing up : ) BTW there is some very good advice from Bill Watterson (creator of Calvin and Hobbes) here: One of my favourite quotes: “To invent your own life’s meaning is not easy, but it’s still allowed, and I think you’ll be happier for the trouble.”


    1. Thanks Anna, I read the Bill Watterson article – WOW (if anyone hasn’t read it, go take a look, it’s really inspiring). I love your favourite quote and also; “If I’ve learned one thing from being a cartoonist, it’s how important playing is to creativity and happiness.” Here’s to playing!


  6. If necessary, we can pretend those constraining rules apply to me and not you. Less burden for you. Besides, I’m quite good at ignoring rules that require acting grown up (I can handle them!).


  7. Hey Katherine,
    Since it’s been ages since I visited your site I thought I’d pop by and say hi! I love your work – the site looks great now – such an inspiration and glad to see you’re doing so well :-) x


    1. Hi Emma, good to hear from you and thanks for your lovely comments! Things have changed quite a bit since you were last here and I have more plans afoot…in the interim period, I just need to sort out the small matter of a job and some money, ha ha x


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