Peter Pan is a charming, charismatic child who wants “always to be a little boy and have fun” and gets his wish. He can fly and teach other children how to fly, and he lives on an island called Neverland that combines the landscapes of children’s fantasies and games. There he is the captain of a group of Lost Boys whom he leads on thrilling adventures with pirates, Indians, mermaids, fairies, and wild beasts. But he longs for a mother, and manages to entice a little girl called Wendy to leave her home in London and follow him, with her two brothers, to Neverland. That is what makes the Disney movie and Peter Pan dramas so enjoyable for millions. However, fiction is often a great deal more enjoyable than fact. And as the age old saying goes, “Truth is stranger than fiction.”
The fact is that there is a little bit of Peter Pan inside all of us. All men in this world want all the benefits of adulthood whilst retaining all the childlike behavior of their youth. In fact, there is a something called as a ‘Peter Pan Syndrome’. But this post is not about that syndrome. Neither it is about narcissism. Narcissism and Peter Pan Syndrome are two-sides of the same coin. Narcissism describes the character trait of self-love, based on self-image or ego. The word is derived from a Greek myth. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo. As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.
Unlike narcissism, which I feel has a bit of a negative element, the Peter Pans of this world are self-absorbed, but in a positive way, unlike the uncaring way that narcissism implies. They simply feel a dreamy, imaginative comfort inside of their own minds – an attraction to introspection that is positive and well-meaning. In a way, they live in their own Utopian world.
Not sure if everyone agrees to this thought: we all to a certain degree are part of a self-admiration club. The number of mirrors all around our home and malls, and even escalators are a justification to this thoughtJ. And the great paradox that life is that it is too important to be taken seriously; we do get sucked to this syndrome time and again. But the Peter Pans are harmless beings. Although other people play a crucial role in our lives, we cannot possibly relate to them as well as we can to ourselves. Their feelings cannot resonate in our nerve centers in the same way our feelings can. Thus, we must dwell on ourselves from time to time.
But the one fallout of being a Peter Pan, as some studies have suggested is when you are in a relationship. The biggest one that I see because of this Peter Pan trait is that the child-like adult man spends so much of his life loving himself, including who and what he is, there will be little, if any, love left for you. The second one is about fidelity. And in all his innocence, he does not see it as an issue at all because of his child-like behavior; out there to impress everyone. And he is not unfaithful, but just playful in his behavior. The last important one is that these Peter Pan more than often seek a Mother figure in their girlfriend. Remember Wendy in Peter Pan.
So remember, Peter Pan is a great character: magical and eternal. I wonder whether James Barrie, who wrote Peter Pan, would have thought that he is actually creating a masterpiece character, which will live in ages to come. So, don’t’ worry if there is a little Peter Pan inside you cause everything in moderation is fine and works well in our society and system. But like any other syndrome, not let it control you. If you think you are succumbing to it—break free. Because it is good to have a little bit of Peter Pan and a little bit of Batman or Spiderman in you—everyone loves to see the soft, dreamy side and when time comes the macho, tough, save the world aspect in you.
I will leave you with this quote of Peter Pan, “Dreams do come true, if only we wish hard enough. You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it.”