I’ve written about my general sense of dissatisfaction and unease about life previously. It’s not a particularly cheery or inspirational outlook, but it’s mine, so I own it. It’s brought me to the point where I am now; a teacher, coach, Master’s student, and nattily dressed sophisticate. All things considered, I should probably feel a lot more content about life than I do. I have a great job, summers off to travel and live life at my leisure and boyish charm and good looks that drive women wild.
If you would’ve told me in 2001 I’d be teaching in my hometown, I probably would’ve thought that was the cat’s pajamas. However, in 2001 I also thought ‘Idle Hands’ was a great movie, so maybe I had yet to develop a suitable sense of perspective on anything.
Someone once asked me if this unease was because I thought there was always something better out there for me. If I was worried that if I settled with something that I’d be supremely unhappy because there’d always be something else I wanted or at least the potential to want something else that I didn’t have. After chewing on that for a few days, I came to the conclusion that I do think some of that may be true. It’s a big world out there and I haven’t explored a lot of it, so how can I really know what I want?
There are times where I look at the people around me and ask myself that question about them. How can someone buy a house or take a job there? What an awful way to live; trapped in a place because you bought a house. But in that same respect, I’m envious of those people. Those people who have enough confidence to say, ‘This is what I want and I know that for a fact.’
It’s a brazen thing to say with confidence that you want to make a commitment to something, whether it be a house, a car, a relationship, or the like. I know what my perspective on things is and I know there are more people out there who probably share similar feelings, which makes me wonder how so many people end up with houses that they hate or in relationships that end in divorce. I get people change; I totally understand that. I’m a completely different person than I was five years ago. But then the only conclusion I can draw about people who rush into those early commitments is that they truly have little perspective on the decisions that they’re making.
For example, when I moved back to Pennsylvania from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, I had the means relative to the cost of living in the area where I moved to buy a house immediately. However, after four years, I still balk at the idea of permanently owning something because how am I to know what opportunities might present themselves to me in the coming weeks, months, or years? What if I were offered a dream job, like, I don’t know, watching baseball in a state of the art Fan Cave in downtown New York City? If I had to pass up on the opportunity of a lifetime like that because I was worried about a mortgage payment… well, that’s probably the most cruel and unfair thing I could imagine doing to myself.
All things considered, I definitely think I’m going through life the right way. I haven’t rushed into any life altering decisions, sans a car payment and student loans. If I needed to uproot myself to go pursue something elsewhere, I haven’t hamstrung myself at all. And I suppose that would be the best advice I could give to a younger person with a lot of their life ahead of them still: don’t rush life. It’s going to come at you plenty fast enough once it gets going. Go find out what kind of things you enjoy. Find a lifestyle that fits you, then figure out how all of the other stuff fits into your life. If a house fits in your lifestyle, sure, it makes sense to purchase one. If not, renting is a hell of a lot easier than owning. If cohabitating with someone else for the rest of your natural life tickles your fancy, maybe battening the hatches and getting hitched is something worthwhile to pursue. If not, why not keep dating and enjoy your time together?
At thirty I don’t have all the answers. However, in my advancing age, I feel like I’m definitely learning a lot more about what the questions are. That to me, has been one of the biggest keys to being happy.
Take your time. There’s plenty of time to settle down later on life. For now, just enjoy the ride.