Feed Your Inner Child

Society places a lot of importance on growing up, but maybe we shouldn’t always give in to the pressure.

Robin Doyscher, Senior Columnist

There’s a 1999 Disney channel original movie called “Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century” that I’ve been hyper fixating on for the past three years now. It’s about the titular character, a 13 year old by the name of Zenon Kar who lives on a space colony ship that orbits the earth. After Zenon is framed for causing trouble and is subsequently “grounded” (which just means she’s sent to Earth for a bit) the movie unravels the complicated political structure of the arc ship Zenon and her family lives on, and even predicted the venture capitalist desire to retreat into space with little thought of the common people—seeing as the main villain is a greedy business dude who wants to crash the station for the insurance money.

“I’ve concluded that we really need those spaces for ourselves to let our inner child run free.”

Zenon is campy, has little to no budget, has awkward dialogue alongside earnest acting, is full of late 90s slang altered to sound ‘spacey’ (ceetus-lupeetus and lunarious come to mind) and it is one of my favorite films of all time. It just takes me back to that innocent time of watching cheesy shows made for kids my age meant to teach us the most basic of moral lessons.

For a while I struggled with not just my love of “Zenon,” but my enjoyment of cartoons, certain video games, comics, art and various other hobbies. I felt embarrassed that I hadn’t grown out of some of my favorite things, and hadn’t picked up more “adult” hobbies like binge drinking or doing taxes. And yet, through the continued inner child work I’ve done over quarantine, which mostly included making myself 3 a.m. BLTs and watching cartoons, I’ve concluded that we really need those spaces for ourselves to let our inner child run free.

The real world is kind of a crapsack right now, and has been for all of the past, and possibly for most of the foreseeable future. If someone wants to get stoned and watch “Avatar: The Last Airbender” why should we, as a society, deny them that? The amount of pressure placed on emerging adults to throw away their ‘childish’ dreams and hobbies to pick up more mature interests is so utterly ridiculous to me.

Hot take here, but those I know who are truly well and settled into adulthood—no matter where that may be—have never let their age or societal pressure force them to not love the things they enjoy. Art aimed at a child demographic is way more universal for some people—since hey, everyone was a child once. The sole exception being Mel Gibson, who one day sprang fully-formed from a racist old guy’s head with the full intention of being a menace to society.

Look, I get that enjoying art made for children is a point of vulnerability for a lot of people. Kids are cruel, but adults are cold—in a way that makes you feel as though your very values and ideas can be wrong if they don’t slot well enough into what society deems appropriate for your role. But I am here, as an adult, to hereby give you permission to let your inner child run free. Watch cartoons, color with crayons, make elaborate telenovela style plots with calico critters. Just please, let yourself be a kid at heart, because one day we may not be around to enjoy that option.