The “S” word has such a bad rap. My generation–I think more than the ones before–has great pressure on it to never settle. We are to dream big, pursue those dreams, achieve them, then what? Dream bigger, pursue those dreams, achieve them. Then… I’m exhausted. Yet, the alternative is invariably worse: slowly forget your dreams of taking over the world while you were in college, your dreams of finding the perfect mate, of the perfect job that allows you to travel the world. Forget those thoughts and replace them with reality: the job offer down the street, the guy down the street. Settle into life, look up at the age of 35 with only faint memories of conversations in college you had with your friends about taking over the world. You’ve settled, yes. But is that so bad?
I ask this as someone who’s done both: I have settled and I have refused to settle. The latter typically gives me more of a sense of victory, but as I grow into my mid-twenties, the former is oh so realistic, commonplace and logical. People have kids, they have mortgages, and car payments, and lots and lots of school debt. At some point, settling is survival.
Not to mention time. It goes by really fast (Maybe I’m the first to have ever said that.) and doesn’t leave much room to not settle. Pursuing big dreams and waiting for them to materialize can take years. But that’s always the argument for not settling: life goes by too fast, seize the day. How tricky and two-faced I am just now realizing the “life goes by so fast” argument actually is.
Both sides of the spectrum–settling and refusing to–seem to be pressuring us at any given moment. And I would argue that more often than not, settling wins. So if settling is the majority of life, why do we hate it so and beg ourselves and others not to?
Why does settling continue to be my absolute worst nightmare? And why when I see others doing so, do I feel like screaming?
Surely something intended for us would not cause such an outcry in me. But maybe that outcry will quiet with time. I know it already has in some ways.
Can it get quieter? Should it?