Have you ever seen a movie or read a book about a person who wakes up out of the blue one day to find that they have no idea how they built the life they did? They had completely lost sight of their original intention and bit by bit, day by day, they settled. Until years later when they have no idea who they even are, or where their identity lies. This causes not only huge pain to the other people involved in the character’s life, but to the character themself.
The bestselling novel Eat. Pray. Love. for example is based on this premise. Liz, the author and main character, travels for a year to find herself again after a nasty divorce. This, of course, is where the exciting part of the story picks up because she takes us along her exciting travel journey, but I always found myself wondering, how did she let herself get so unhappy in the first place?
Would I, one day wake up to find my life foreign to me? Would I regret not taking a chance or feeling that I should have waited for more? I never really want to find out, because that is terrifying to me! I want to hold myself and my identity close to me. Find out what I’m passionate about and run towards it!
My biggest fear in life is settling. Settling for anything, really. I’ve always been uncomfortable in jobs I didn’t thrive in, friendships I wasn’t fulfilled in, cities I didn’t vibe with, and relationships I couldn’t see going long-term. I felt that I was not only cheating myself, but cheating everyone else involved too. Why on Earth would anyone want to see me at anything less than my best? Why would I not only waste my valuable time, but my employers, friends, and partner’s time? Knowing something isn’t right sits in my gut, festering, until I finally have to cut it loose. Unless I feel something smacks me over the head with a bold “YES”, anything else in my mind classifies as a “no”.
Daring greatly is something I want to be known for.
That’s why I studied abroad even though it made no financial or logistical sense, why I transferred colleges and moved out of state, why I have ended perfectly okay relationships because I wanted an epic love story. I want a lot in life, simply because I only get one shot at it, so why would I aim for anything less than the best? Why would I play it safe, sell myself short? Why would you? There’s no point.
Sometimes I wonder if people simply don’t dream as largely as I do, with as much ferocity. I want to shake them and say “Wake up! Pick something, anything, and be passionate about it!” Passion should be at your core, and be the thing that gets you out of bed everyday.
I know that not everyone can see this, or, let me rephrase. Not everyone wants to see this. Because it’s hard! It’s hard to remain true to yourself amidst all life throws at you.
After some thinking and processing with people, I think settling comes from three main things; convenience, control, and confidence (or lack thereof). People give up on dreams because what they have in front of them is easy to stay in, it provides a bit more assurance about tomorrow, and they get to avoid living in fear about the fact that their dreams may not be fulfilled. To some, it’s much less of a risk to continue with the sub-par situation than daring to dream of a better one.
Now I’m not saying that you should never have a bad day, or that your life needs to dramatically change every time you have a new idea. I firmly believe that you can remain passionate in a 40-year long relationship, in the same small town, doing the same work. Just as long as you feel that those things fulfill you and satisfy your future goals.
I’m also not saying that you shouldn’t compromise, you should. It’s just as much a part of life as passion is, but don’t compromise your life so much that you get lost in the others around you. I know being married and having kids requires loads of compromise, but even so, you shouldn’t lose sight of your goals and your passions because after all, it’s your life.
Spending time in Brazil helped me see that fun doesn’t have to end when you turn thirty. During Carnival, the craziest party in the world, I saw 70 year old women singing and dancing at 3am on the street, decked out in glitter with the rest of us. Brazilians live largely! Their culture supports personal development until the day they die, so why can’t ours?
I find that people often think one day they’ll “arrive” at completeness. They think that one day they will have the mysteries of life figured out, and then at which point they can start living life the way that they want to. But, if that doesn’t happen within our desired timeframe, we get worried that it won’t happen at all, and suddenly grasp onto whatever is closest to us, in hopes that that will be good enough to fulfill us.
Or, opposingly, people feel that at some point you should settle. Let the days of discovery happen in your twenties and then, regardless if you discover anything, buckle down and make a “real living”. Settle for something so that you aren’t left with nothing.
Here’s news for you, you’ll never fully 100% “arrive” but that doesn’t mean you should settle. You will continue to learn new lessons and be pushed in uncomfortable ways every day of your life. But, you can still be bold. In fact, being bold will encourage the learning even more. And even if you fail, so what! You learn, you get back up, and you keep going.
Daring for greatness in life almost promises failure, and discomfort. It won’t always be easy or certain, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it anyways. Even if you don’t make it to where you were originally intending, that’s fine, because chances are you’ll discover something along the way that, although different, is so much better than what you could have ever imagined.
Dare to be bold.
Dare to discover your best self, and don’t let the temptation of settling get in your way.