Reality’s Unusual Invitations

Last night Rachelle and I attended our first class from the kink-related meetup group that we joined after going through the orientation on Monday. The topic of littles and age play wasn’t something that either of us are into, but we thought we’d go anyway to see what the meetup was like. We also got some synchronicities related to attending, which I often take as a hint from reality that it’s wise to accept the invitation.

I also like leaning into learning and social experiences that are very different from what I’ve previously explored. Even if I’m not particularly interested in something, I still like to expand my horizons and take in fresh input now and then. This helps me learn more about human nature, and it keeps my knowledge and understanding from becoming stale or brittle.

I don’t tend to be converted to new points of view when I deliberately learn about something that doesn’t appeal to me, at least not in terms of being directly persuaded to like something that I didn’t like before. The effect is similar to when people hang out with those of the opposite political persuasion. You’re unlikely to be converted, and you’ll probably just emerge more certain about your prior views, but you may develop a keener sense of what matters to you and why. So there can still be a character sculpting effect, but it probably won’t pull you in the opposite direction.

I didn’t know much about littles and age play before the meetup. I’d heard the terms before, but that’s about it. These topics were shoved in the bin of my brain called “kinky stuff I’m not into, but some people are.” After attending last night’s class, which included two hours of slides, storytelling, and insightful sharing from someone with extensive direct experience – albeit playfully and casually – I know way more about this than I ever did before. I emerged even more certain that it’s just not something I’m into.

One reason I wanted to go to this meetup was sheer curiosity. I didn’t understand how it could be a turn-on for someone to be into this particular fetish and not have it feel immensely creepy. No matter how I frame it, it’s a total turnoff for me. I get an “ewww” feeling just thinking about it. Before I went to the meetup, I wondered why anyone would be into this, let alone offer a class on it. Apparently there are a lot of people who enjoy this though, and many have found a way to integrate this into their lifestyles with other like-minded people.

I do respect that this is a kink practiced by consenting adults, and I support people having the freedom to explore together if it’s agreeable for all involved. But it also made me wonder why this is even a part of my reality, especially when I view it through the subjective lens. Why would my simulation even give rise to something like this? Is it a glitch, or is there some deeper value or meaning in it?

There is some overlap between this fetish and other aspects of kink that do appeal to me, namely the power exchange of D/s play. So this did help me think about D/s with a fresh perspective, giving me a bit more clarity about the edges and boundaries of what I like. But I didn’t find that particularly profound, and it wasn’t the main insight I gained last night.

What I found most interesting was when the speaker shared his reasons for being into this, not just as occasional play but as a committed lifestyle and identity. He noted the joys of letting go of responsibility and letting someone else care for him. It was clear that he gains a lot from the experience, especially in terms of feeling deep emotional connection and intimacy. I was genuinely impressed by how lucidly he expressed this, which helped me to understand his point of view. I found his depth of sharing about the emotional benefits way more insightful than anything he shared about specific practices. I also found this part more relatable. I couldn’t connect with the practices, but I could connect with the benefits he described.

Because my work is about personal growth, and since personal growth is also personal, I don’t do a very good job of letting go of work. So much of what I do can be considered growth-related in some way or another. Even when I’m traveling or on vacation, I have a tendency to frame and treat such trips as growth experiences. I’m always challenging myself to grow, grow, and grow some more.

When I try to have a pure play experience, some part of me still conspires to treat it as a growth experience. Personal growth is just such a dominant lens in my life, probably because it’s a lens that I feel saved my life when I was younger, and so I’ve been very loyal to it for decades.

And I still love this lens. I don’t expect to ever abandon it. But I also see that it’s useful to lower this lens now and then. Sometimes I wear this lens so much that I can mistake it for my eyes.

I can have pure play experiences, but I relegate these to the back burner much of the time. This part of life so often gets cut when I get busy. And I still feel a need to justify play much of the time, giving it a work-related purpose such as recharging my batteries to be more productive. There often has to be a growth-oriented “adult” reason to justify play, which means the meaning of play is always tethered to the meaning of work.

Play can be framed as an activity that gets balanced with work and other activities, or it can be integrated into one’s self-image, such that it becomes a normal and natural expression of oneself.

Play is one form of non-work, but I could also think of non-work as meeting and fulfilling deeper needs. I’m very good at meeting some of those needs, like enjoying an abundance of human touch. But this class invited me to think about other aspects of non-work more deeply, such as friendship and in-person socializing. Do those outlets have to be growth-oriented in order to be very satisfying?

I’m grateful for last night’s meetup. It was an unusual invitation from reality, one that I could have rejected for surface reasons. This encourages me to loosen up and be more flexible in learning about other kinks, fetishes, and other practices that I already know I’m not into. There may be higher level insights to be gained by seeking understanding and trying to find common ground. Instead of that “ewww” feeling when I think about this topic now, I feel that some compassion has stepped in to take its place, perhaps because I can now link it to a real human being. I still have no desire to explore it personally, but I feel that I’ve gained something by understanding a little better why other people do. I know… bad pun. 😉

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Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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