If you’re a 20 something year old or were a 20 something year old at once point in life, you’ve probably been asked the seemingly harmless question: ‘When are you going to settle down?’
Settle down for what? What does this even mean? After living abroad for three years and no plans of returning home just yet, I’ve heard this question once or twice. And my oh my, is this question ever loaded.
The people in my social circle are all living very different lives, myself included. I have friends who…
1) Have a combination of a partner, a mortgage, children and/or pets.
2) Who are living abroad and travelling the world.
3) Who are a mix of the above.
As for myself, I fit best into category number three. I have a long term partner, but I’m also living abroad and travelling the world.
I think this pressure of ‘settling down’ can mean entirely different things to different people depending on your life circumstances. For someone in a serious relationship, it may mean the ‘next step’ like getting engaged or getting married. For someone who is married, it may mean the ‘next step’ of buying a house or having kids. And for someone travelling, it may mean when they are going to stop travelling and ‘settle down’ in one place.
I’ve narrowed down the reason why this question causes me so much anxiety. As of right now, I love the uncertainty of not knowing where I’ll be in the next few months and constantly experiencing new environments, people, and jobs. I love the flexibility of choosing when I need to work and being able to take time off as I please to go travelling. The idea of having to choose a permanent place to live and a more stable job…well, now that frightens me. One day I’m sure it won’t frighten me so much. But as of right now? It frightens me beyond belief.
Why is it that we feel like we need to follow this step-by-step playbook? Why is there so much external pressure from others to take these ‘next steps’? Life shouldn’t be about always thinking of the next step. It should be about enjoying where you’re at in life and making the most of those moments. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ever plan ahead…but I think it’s important that we focus on cherishing the ‘now’ and take each step as it comes. If you’re engaged, enjoy those moments of being engaged. If you’re renting and not owning, enjoy those moments of getting your landlord to fix things that are broken. If you’re travelling, enjoy those moments of encountering new things and being broke AF.
I think it’s time that we all settle down (pun intended) and instead, we should just ‘settle in’ to the life we want to live and let others do the same. I know I’ll be settling into this life of uncertainty and trying to make the most of the unknown. For now anyway.