The Case for Settling
One day, I’d like to give it all up and just be a handsome millionaire. That’s what I like to tell myself, anyway.
The joke is, of course, that both of those things would be an improvement over my current lot; while we like to tell ourselves that these are things we work really hard at, both beauty and wealth are often things we just are. Gifts bestowed upon us by good fortune or great genes.
I’m thinking about these things, now more than ever, on the wrong side of 40 and wondering how much time I’ve already wasted and how little time I have left. I wonder if you wonder about these things, too. About taking the easy road — and if there are on-ramps to it after you’ve taken the other route the whole time. Because the longer I live, the less attractive an exceptional life becomes.
Bad At Basic
I’ve lived, by most metrics, a pretty exciting life. I’ve made (and lost, and made, and lost) plenty of money. I’ve climbed mountains and run marathons. I’ve won prestigious awards and worked for prestigious companies (and people). I’ve traveled around the world. I’ve been in rooms I’ve had no business being in. Frankly, I think I did all this to overcompensate for what I lacked. I lack the discipline, the desire, or the natural talent, at being good at the basics.
Given the choice, I would’ve much preferred being a fairly average (but disarmingly attractive!) person with excellent health and preternatural people skills. I think I would’ve been better off believing in a god, getting married at 25, having kids at 30, owning a suburban home, working a corporate job for 25 years, and achieving an 800 credit score.
I think perhaps the root of my disdain for dull was my inability to actually make it happen for myself. I didn’t go to one college, I went to four. I didn’t find a career till age 30. I traveled the world instead of paying a mortgage. I still don’t think I’m very good at people. I would love a peaceful life of quiet success in a boring discipline, yet when presented with the opportunity at various junctures, I doubled down on excitement or simply squandered the opportunity away. My soul would whisper to me, “You weren’t meant for this.” I…