On ‘Settling Down’

The phrase ‘settle down’ immediately makes me convulse; as if someone has just nailed my voodoo doll to a wall. To some this is a seemingly innocent phrase with intentions of ‘maturity’ and ‘adulthood’, while the true meaning of this phrase is deeply ingrained in the idea of giving up; with intentions of lying down and simply waiting for death. To settle down is to simply accept what is.

When someone refers to settling down, they are usually talking about any of the following: buying a house, getting married, having kids, and ensuring job security in a stable 9-5 job; becoming another gear in the machine, another success in the American dream. Though, the underlying tone is delivered as a message about ceasing adventure and accepting societal and conventional norms.

I will never understand those that settle down at young ages of 19, wanting multiple children and then giving up on their own life; this isn’t a post-war society, we aren’t trying to repopulate. In fact, as a species we are facing a seriously large problem of over-population; we do not have the land or the resources to sustain our own populations let alone the current population growth rates. However I digress.

Realistically, at 19, no one has life experience. You are not old enough to have defined yourself, nor have you experienced enough of the world. I say this with the experience of being engaged at 19. At the time I was following the conventional script of life: get a degree, get a job, find partner, and settle down. In hindsight, I had no idea what I was doing; let alone a grasp on any of the emotions that I was feeling. I am glad that it fell apart, because I fear what would have become of me.

I’m not sure when, but some time ago, our ingrained sense of adventure died. There was a time when most people looked to the stars and dreamed of exploring them or simply set sail in search of untamed lands. These days some people don’t even leave the state that they grew up in. They live forever within their comfort zone. Never seeking more and never demanding more from life. Some even become extreme xenophobes; fearing anything perceived as different.

What doesn’t help is the dominant narrative present within todays society. Where buying a house becomes the aim of life. Where you should just settle down and become part of the daily grind. At what stage in the development of our species, of our cerebral cortex, did waiting for death become acceptable?

Let us look at what the stereotypical day consists of: getting up, commuting to work, eight hours of sedentary desk work, commuting home, cooking highly processed pre-packaged foods, and siting down in front of a giant screen to watch reality TV for hours before going to bed. Rinse and repeat with the accumulation of material possessions. Is this really life? This is what people mean when they say ‘settle down’.

I never want to settle down, and neither should you. We should seek adventures, we should continually seek to expand our knowledge, our experiences and become greater than our present self.

Never settle. Always demand more from life.