We have all heard the term "to settle down". One of the definitions I found on Google said, "to adopt a more steady or secure style of life, especially in a permanent job and home". I was recently talking with my youngest newlywed daughter about this very topic and I felt like maybe I could offer some insight to all of you that I offered her. Maybe it will help you to feel better about your current state of "unsettled-ness" or, if you feel all "settled in" maybe it will help you to be prepared when something stirs your nice, "settled" pot in life!
What is "Being Settled"? - Let's tackle this term head on. What is your definition of "being settled"? For my daughter, it meant when she was finally married, had a nicer place to live, got a dog and had a new car payment. However, now that she has acquired all these things, she still doesn't "feel" settled like she thought she would. Unfortunately I had to tell her that I was still waiting to feel "settled" in that sense in my life, too. I guess my definition was the same as hers--that there would be this arrival in life where you have made it to this magical place where now you just coast in your life. Obviously that is not the true definition. I think a more accurate definition is to say, "the stage in life when the big things are more decided on, so that you can concentrate on all the hills and valleys life has to offer without the insecurities of a job, home or life partner". That's basically it. Life is a constant ebb and flow of change and decisions. The only difference when you are "settled" is that you are going through all life's craziness with someone at your side--and in a place that is more stable than maybe when you were in college.
Why Do We Want to be "Settled"? - All of us want to feel safe and secure in our lives. Even the adrenaline junkies need that solid ground when the land after skydiving. Having some sort of routine is the thing that keeps us grounded when the tough times come. However, a lot of us think we will feel all "grown up" when we are settled, but you actually don't feel any different at all. You are still you. My mother used to say that she felt the same on the inside all her life as she did when she was about 11 years old. I think this is so true. But, we all need some level of security. For a lot of us, buying our first home is a sign of that. However, some tend to overlook the responsibility that comes with owning a home or having a relationship with a pet or a partner in life! It can all be overwhelming if you expect something that isn't really out there the way we think it is. If we can keep in mind that we are always striving for a new level of being "settled" then maybe our expectations of life will be more closely related to the realities of life. Part of being "settled" is understanding responsibilities that come with adulthood. Most of those, unfortunately are learned as we mess them up! There is no rule book on understanding responsibility. The weight of it is only found out by having it on your shoulders at some point in your life. Period.
How Do We Get "Settled"? - I think the way to truly achieve "being settled" doesn't necessarily have to involve marriage, a home, a pet or a 9 to 5 job. I think it comes with inward maturity. Where we take each day and face it with strength of character and kindness to others. When we are good stewards of our time, money and friendships. A place where we can set goals and work to achieve them. Always keeping in mind that life is ever changing and showing us new ways of doing things. Where we can face those challenges head on and seek help when we feel we can't. I believe all of this makes us settled adults. I do also feel that our home has a lot to do with us feeling secure in our lives. When I was a kid and we moved a lot, no matter where we lived, my mom was HOME. She made where ever we were in the world safe and secure. I do think, though, having the right space for our home helps a lot too. It's one reason I love real estate. It's unique like people--and finding the right place for you is like finding your life partner or best friend. Being able to be there for someone who is finding their secure place, or selling their secure place because their lives have changed, is a really rewarding job. We may be helping someone feel more settled than they have before, or we may be holding someone's hand whose life has suddenly become unsettled. It's nice to be that steady hand of help. I think THAT settles me.