I grew up loving the story of Peter Pan. I remember fantasizing about the idea of a magical land where I could stay young forever and anything was possible. I imagined I was one of the Lost Boys, working along side Peter Pan as he thwarted Captain Hook’s evil schemes. I dreamed of flying over my neighborhood without a care in the world.
Now, in adulthood, the story of Peter Pan takes on a whole different meaning for me. I have come to realize that Neverland is real and there are many men out there still living in it as Lost Boys.
Lost Boy Syndrome or Peter Pan Complex are popular terms used in the mental health field. They are used to describe adult men who refuse to to grow up, despite their obvious physical appearance. They avoid responsibilities and only seek out the fun in life. They have no interest in finding a career, starting a family, or living a life of purpose.
Now I am not bashing men who want fun and adventure in their life. Quite the opposite, really. That is part of what makes life so amazing, but there is the harsh reality that these men must face right now. They are not living in the Neverland they heard about in the storybooks. The Neverland they are living in is only keeping them from their ultimate potential for adventure in their lives.
In order to understand this, we must first take a closer look at who the Lost Boys and Peter Pan really are. The Lost Boys are orphans. They were raised without parents to love and care for them. They managed to escape to Neverland where they could stay young forever. In Neverland, they lived in poverty, using the woods as their home. They ran from Captain Hook who represents the reality of adulthood, because the idea of growing up scared the living shit out of them. They swooned over the beautiful Wendy, who although is attracted to the excitement of a life in Neverland, decided the real world is where she belongs. And although they kept their youth for all eternity, they were forced to live in a world where they would never become something greater than they already were.
Suddenly, the life of a Lost Boy doesn’t seem as appealing. But wait, it gets worse.
Now let’s implement the same ideas in a real world scenario. The Lost Boys that are still living in Neverland outside of this fairytale story are living a very similar life. They live in poverty or close to it, working a dead end job that brings them no joy or purpose. While some may steal, many Lost Boys leach off other people, using them to get what they want and discard them after they’re done. They look at those who are living successful lives with disdain and anger, yet they envy what these people have. They swoon over the Wendy in their life, but will never have her because although the boyish charm is appealing, she is looking for a man who embraces his masculinity instead of running from it.
Here’s the truth about the Lost Boys of the world. They are scared, and rightfully so. The real world is a frightening place that is full of disappointments and challenges. Neverland is a safe place to live because it is predictable. Lost Boys believe that they are free, but freedom does not involve voluntarily locking yourself in a cage. In Neverland, things don’t change, they don’t change, and they can avoid the stress and hurt experienced out in the real world. Lost Boys believe in the fantasy of Neverland, but they don’t believe in themselves. They fear growing up because they don’t believe that they can fly in the real world. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In many ways, the real world can be just as magical and adventurous as Neverland. But in order to experience it, a Lost Boy must choose to grow up.
By choosing to grow up, a Lost Boy embarks on a lifelong adventure of discovering himself. He can find his true place in the world and stand as a leader instead of just blending in with the masses. He can see just how magical the world is by going out and experiencing it fully. He will finally win the heart of his Wendy by embracing his masculinity and becoming the man he was meant to be.
Neverland is not adventurous. It is predictable, safe, and boring.
Fear, risk, and danger. These are the things adventures are made of and the real world is full of it.
It is time that the Lost Boys give up their meaningless lives in Neverland and emerge into a life of purpose in the real world. It is time to stop relying on fairy dust to fly and realize it’s already possible by believing in themselves.
It is time for the Lost Boys of the world to join the tribe of Found Men.
“To live will be an awfully big adventure.” – J. M. Barrie