Don’t be fooled by these happy pilgrims. Settling is for suckers.
There are so many things we can settle for when we’re trying to figure it all out. We might settle for a lower salary, a smaller apartment, and a knock-off pair of shoes until we can afford the real deal. We might settle for ramen noodles for dinner. But there are things we should never settle for, be it in a relationship, in our careers, or just in the things we know we deserve. Before we hit 30 and look back in regret, we need to have a heart-to-heart with ourselves and decide what we can bend on and what we never will. Here’s my list:
1) A career that isn’t of your making – it’s easy to become who other people want you to be. No one gets mad at you this way. Feathers remain unrustled. You’re the good guy. But if your career is going in a direction you’re not comfortable with, you have to make a change before you wake up sitting in a cubicle growing old. I’ve had bosses tell me how talented I was in things I hated. I had significant others tell me to stay in a city where the dreams I had would never, ever come true. I got bitter. I hated the one thing that had gotten me out of bed most mornings – the possibility of what the day at my desk would hold. And every time I’ve felt that, I changed it. I knew early on I wouldn’t settle for a countdown clock to retirement. So I won’t.
2) A city that doesn’t make you wake up, look around, and go yes, this is exactly where I’m meant to be – an over-quoted Dave Matthew’s line says: Turns out not where, but who you’re with that really matters. I think the only people who say this are those stuck in a place they hate. I didn’t realize how important location was until I was in a city that I couldn’t find a single exciting thing about. This city will always tug at my heartstrings and I will always adore it because it showed me how much I needed to leave. Now, I live in a city that seems cold and unforgiving to many but to me, it’s just home.
3) Someone who doesn’t make you sacrifice on the big stuff
– I recently stumbled across this YouTube
clip and it really changed the way I look at things. This concept of “the price of admission” is exactly what I mean here. Sure, I’d like the guy I end up with to be 6-feet tall and hate football and think my obsession with shoes is endearing. I’d like him to be smart and funny and not awkward and love New York as much as I do and want to come to Hanson concerts and not make weird jokes or wear navy blue and black together.
But let’s be honest here, that person probably doesn’t exist. Nor does someone who manages to do everything right and not have any weird quirks. Hell, I
have a lot of weird quirks. What’s most important are those handful of things you know are most important to you. Those
are the things not to bend on. I’m still trying to figure out what all those things are, and in the meantime, I’m not turning down second dates because the guy likes Coldplay. I guess my point is this – I’m figuring out what the most important qualities are to me in a mate and when I meet someone who is clearly not a fit, I won’t settle for being with them just because it’s better than being alone (at least, I won’t settle for longer than 3 months. That’s my timeline).
4) Looking older than you are
– maybe this is a vain one, but I know so
many professional young women who look like they’ve been through a war. I don’t know exactly what this war is, but they show up to the office and look like they just rolled out of bed, got dressed in the dark and couldn’t find a tube of lip gloss if their life depended on it. Ellen Burstyn
looked better at the end of Requiem for a Dream. Besides just their physical demise, they seem mentally, emotionally and spiritually beaten. What happens to these girls? Have they settled so much that the settling has sort of… settled in? If you look in the mirror and you can’t find a single thing about you that glows, something needs to start over. When you’re 17, it’s considered cool if someone tells you you look older than you are. This doesn’t ring true when you’re 27. Your looks are going to go eventually, don’t do anything to speed up the process.
5) The wrong coffee order – No, I’m not being ridiculous here and just throwing in a crap reason as #5. I really think that if you start accepting the wrong order or the wrong price for items at restaurants and stores, it’s the first step to caving and settling on the bigger things. If you order a soy latte and get one made with regular milk – send it back. If the shirt rings up for $50 and you know it’s on sale for $30, speak up. No one wants to appear difficult or to make a scene. But in a world that hands you a lot of shit every day, you deserve to get your coffee the way you like it.