The Incredible Work That Goes Into Having Fun

I have a confession to make.

I don't know how to "have fun". Or to "relax". Things that people seem to be able to recognize more readily than "what should I do with my life" or "how to I navigate this complicated emotional situation". I can do those things easily enough, but taking a step back from work is confusing and often anxiety provoking for me.

My boyfriend asked me what I wanted to do for fun that night when we were on a date a week ago. I had to think really hard about it.  As I try to step away from drinking, I'm realizing how many things I find "fun" involve going to bars. Not just going to bars, if I'm honest- the drinking is the fun thing, the relaxing thing, the enforced giving up of some measure of control. I'm having to relearn how to enjoy myself when it's not based on consumption - eating nice food, drinking cocktails, buying pretty dresses. Those things are all pleasurable, certainly, but I'm finding them really empty and without them I'm at a loss of what else I can do, especially at night, that's "fun".

I used to drink and smoke and do drugs and fuck for "fun" but I feel like really I did a lot of all those things in order to fit in. I felt, especially as a fat femme, that I had to be "fun" if I wanted to be liked, and that often meant doing things I didn't want to do in order to maintain social and sexual capital. While it was vital in the moment to pretend that fucking a bunch of men I wasn't that interested in at sex parties was "fun" for me, it wasn't. It was a desperate plea to be seen and treated like a viable person within these party spaces. The more I pulled away from fucking randos and moved towards talking about politics, the less "fun" I became and the more people kept their distance from me. It was ok to be fat as long as I wasn't picky about who I fucked (often aided by drinking, of course).

It's a tough choice- conform, and kind of hate myself, or refuse to conform and end up disappointed in the people around you. But people thought I was fun back then, and would flirt with me, and talk to me, and invite me to things. They don't, now. And in some ways I'm glad, because do I want to be in spaces where people are pushy and ignorant and manipulative?

I miss being fun though. I miss having fun. I miss smiling and laughing til I cry and being in social situations that don't make me want to crawl into the wall. So I need to do some work in figuring out how to invoke fun back into my life.

I'm going to start, here and now, with trying to come up with a list of 10 daytime and 10 nighttime activities (some of which could be both tbh) that might conceivably be "fun" that don't revolve around being at a bar. Whew. Here goes.


-petting animals
-having a picnic
-going to a museum
-day trips to new places
-picking fruit
-taking a class in something
-having a spa day
-leisurely walks in nature


-playing a board game
-doing crafts
-being read to
-making a blanket fort
-going to a hot tub
-seeing a movie
-cooking a meal
-seeing some sort of theatre
-having a bath with bath bombs

Can I be honest? That took me over a half an hour to write, because the things I kept wanting to add were things like "write" or "take photos", both of which I find fun sometimes but are also money making work endeavors.  I mean, it's great that I love my work, but "work/life balance" is a thing I know nothing about. When I have something to do, I'm all in. Which is good in a lot of ways, but I think it's also wearing me out. I'm on the clock from when I wake up til I go to sleep, because when I'm at a loss for what to do with myself, I figure I might as well work... but that's not really self care, I guess. :)

I'm so blessed to have partners who understand this about me and both make space for my workaholism but also gently push me to get away from staring at a screen. Though I do worry that my struggle to be entertaining is a lot of work for them. What do I bring to the table that's pleasurable, if I'm not fun? How can I learn to be fun without betraying myself and my values?

What do you do for fun? How do you relax? Do you have a hard time relaxing? How do you let go of that nagging feeling that there's always more work to be done?

Categories: anxiety, best of, body stuff, boundaries, community, depression, fake it til you make it, parties, personal, rape culture, sexuality

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