“Why bother having fun?”

“Why bother having fun?”

How could I make time 'for myself' when so many other things and people needed my attention?


In early 2021, I suffered from a prolonged physical ailment that forced me to take time off of work. The silly thing is, it was something that could have been prevented, if only I had taken better care of myself, and listened to my body’s warning signs. If only I had not put everything, and everyone else, first.

I was lucky to have an attuned doctor, who sternly told me that after I recovered, I desperately needed to reclaim space that was “just for me” and “just for fun”. What a terrifying concept! How could I make time 'for myself' when so many other things and people needed my attention? How could I do things “for fun” when there were so many things on my to-do list?

I could blame my self-neglect on my toddler, who had a propensity to wake up at 4am, morphing me into a zombie. But if I’m honest, I started eliminating fun when I was a teenager. My studies - and grades - became increasingly important. My passion for creativity faded, because art no longer had 'a purpose'. Sadly, I see it all the time in my students, too. We do an introduction round and half the time I hear, 'I used to love hobby X, but I don’t have time anymore because I need to study'.

One year later, I can proudly say that I have learned to regularly make time for me, for fun. It was not easy, and it forced me to tackle internalized beliefs about 'productivity', which are further stamped upon us in academia with its 'produce or perish' mentality. It forced me to question what it even means to 'be productive'.  

Interestingly, I find that I have returned to all of the things I loved doing when I was a small child, like drawing and painting. I feel like I have returned to myself, and it feels so good. I recently heard on a podcast that you can find what brings you the most joy and fulfillment, if you identify the things you used to love doing as a child. Because children do not worry about 'purpose' and about what other people think.

Maybe you made resolutions for 2022, but I bet your list does not include 'have more fun'. I ask you to reconsider. My inner productivity demon wants to convince you that you 'should', because fun has so many benefits to our health and well-being (i.e., 'purpose'). But I’m stopping myself right there, because you should simply do it for yourself, and because, well, it’s fun.

Jessica Alleva, assistant professor at the faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience


Author: Redactie

Photo: archive Jessica Alleva

Tags: alleva,instagram

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