On resisting the call of the new & accepting the joy of settling.
I grew up with a deep suspicion of the idea of settling for the ordinary. Children of the nineties are imbued with a particular sense of being special, unique and destined for greatness. Or is that just me…?
You can do anything you want, they say.
You’re clever, you’ll succeed at whatever you put your mind to!
Determined to reject that false prophecy, I spent most of my twenties living out my special life in all the (retrospectively) ordinary ways.
But while I didn’t necessarily believe the hype, a part of me was convinced my special future would eventually arrive for me. It would come to collect me in a most unsuspecting moment and then my life would begin. Somebody would turn the colour on in the matrix and everything would finally be illuminated.
That future evidently never turned up.
I have arrived in my thirties to find myself on the most unnervingly typical trajectory. My biological clock is ticking, wedding planning is underway and I’ve already moved into the suburban leafy neighborhood with the dog. My current to do list includes the purchase of a more powerful vacuum cleaner for chrissakes.
My twenty-something self would be horrified. Settling down was always antithesis to me. In the same way teenagers confuse high-drama relationships for true love, I equated a chaotic, tumultuous life with a meaningful one.
‘Settling down’ implies a giving up of something, a letting go or an acceptance of something that was there all the time. ‘Settling down’ refers to making a decision to stop struggling, striving, seeking, searching. Settling is reaching an agreement with yourself to stay put emotionally, physically and everything in between.
It pains me to admit that this settling down thing sounds like a delightful prospect right now.
I delight in reinvention. I revel in the opportunity to start again, be a different version of myself and discard what is no longer shiny and new. But I’ve become tired of that cycle that consistently fails to serve me with any longevity.
What would life be like if I accepted I am only as special as everyone else? Perhaps perpetual comparison would give way to the kind of radical self compassion that allows a person to truly live freely.
Perhaps settling down is rather the ultimate letting go?