Society has an expectation that we all have to settle down one day.
Because settling down means that we have a spouse, and probably a family. It means that we stopped going out spontaneously and traveling on short notice. We probably have a 9-5 desk job we may or may not like, but it pays well and we need the steady income. We have bills to pay, children to attend to, and our life needs to be somewhat stable.
But life is never really stable. There is no such thing as “settling down.”
No move is ever truly permanent. Your job could easily relocate you to another city. Or you could lose your job because of a tough economy, restructuring in the company, or just because things don’t work out. Your spouse could get a great opportunity in another city, forcing you both to decide between the relationship and your “settled” life. An accident could shatter your world. At the same time, a single moment can change your life.
Yet we expect to “settle down” and have our life all planned out by a certain age.
Because it’s apparently completely reasonable to expect us to have our entire lives mapped out.
We didn’t know what was going to happen when we graduated high school at 18. Many of us weren’t much closer when we graduated college at 22. We didn’t know where we’d be at 25, and most of us are probably still being surprised by life when we reach 29. Life will still be taking us by surprise in our thirties.
[clickToTweet tweet=”Life is never stable. There really is no such thing as ‘settling down.'” quote=”Life is never stable. There really is no such thing as ‘settling down.'”]
Even if we think we know where we’re going, we seem to always look back on our lives and find moments and experiences we never expected.
Because we don’t really ever “settle down.”
If we did, our lives would be so dull.
Truly “settling down” means the end of adventuring.
In many ways, that’s what we’re saying when we talk about settling down. Think about what comes to mind when we say “settling down:” getting married, having kids, moving to a more permanent location, focusing on our career.
When we get married, we throw wild bachelor and bachelorette parties because it’s the end of fun as a single person. When we have children and become parents, we act like we must focus everything on them, often forgetting about ourselves. When we focus on our career, we seem to have to give up our social lives.
If settling down means the end of adventuring, then it’s the end of living.
But everything is an adventure in itself.
Our careers are an adventure. From late night work on deadlines and seeing your work come together, or meeting new people and building strong relationships. Experiencing different workplaces and putting all your effort into your work to see it succeed is an adventure too. Some work may include travel too, which offers a different kind of adventure.
Maybe none of us really know what will happen. Maybe we will relocate. Maybe we will change careers completely. Maybe our dream job didn’t turn out to be the dream we thought it would be. Maybe we will get everything we hoped for. Maybe we ended up in the last place we ever thought we’d be. But we can never know for sure until we’re living it.
Finding out will be an adventure.
Our relationships are adventures. Maybe we marry our high school sweethearts. Maybe we don’t. Maybe we go through fifty people before we find our soul mate, or maybe we just go through five. Maybe we get our hearts broken and find out that it was all necessary to get where we are supposed to be. Maybe we get married and have five children. Or maybe just two. Or maybe none at all.
Getting married and having children is an adventure. It is the start of a new adventure because you’re taking on life with another person. Together, you will share new chapters and new experiences. Having children and watching them grow up will be an adventure. Children are so unpredictable, expecting things to stay “settled” with children is nearly impossible.
Embrace the adventure instead.
Children look up to us adults to learn how to live. Even people that are just younger than us look up to us. In a world with so little guidance and a life with no instruction manual, it’s all we can do. When we all “settle down” in a life with no adventures, it makes the future look dull for those growing up. When we “settle down,” we are admitting to giving up a life of adventures for an illusion of stability.
But nothing is ever truly “settled.”
No matter what, we’re living an adventure.
The only thing we can do is admit the uncertainty and embrace it. The only way we will find out what life holds in store for us is to live the adventure. It will most likely not be what we expected, it will take us in waves and storms, and we will grow from the experiences.
Don’t “settle down” for anything less than living.
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