What is the concept of settling down?
To me, settling down is following through with what society tells you is normal when you reach a certain age. You’re 20? You should be well into defining your career by now. You’re 25? Why aren’t you married already. You’re 30? What do you mean you don’t have children yet. Any of this sound familiar?
So what happens when you want to take a different path than the standard career-marriage-house-kids? I’d always thought that everyone went down this path eventually, and that my eagerness to continue travelling instead made me some sort of weirdo. I felt like the ‘black sheep’ of society, who blew all my savings on travel instead of putting it aside for a future house.
But after travelling abroad a few times and discovering that this lifestyle is what I truly want, I realised that life isn’t about doing what everyone else is doing, it’s about pursuing what makes you happy.
You might have heard the above quote before, and I feel it’s absolutely 100% true. Every trip I take to a new place opens my mind and teaches me things I would never have learnt if I didn’t travel. In my opinion, these experiences are more valuable than any amount of money. I come back from each trip with more confidence, better people skills, and a more open view of the world. Travelling makes me a better person and this is why I want to continue doing it.
When people ask me when I’ll be settling down, I usually receive a badly hidden expression of surprise when I mention that I’m not planning on pumping out a few kids any time soon, that I’m not thinking about getting a ridiculously large mortgage for a 4-bedroom house in the outer suburbs, and that I’m working mostly for myself on a wage that is about half the national average.
They react this way because the concept of not settling down seems foreign, and they can’t understand how someone wouldn’t want to do what everyone else is doing. People are often afraid of something different.
Being a weirdo in Wroclaw, Poland
We’ve all been trained to think that we have to be ‘normal’. We were told to stay in line at school, get good grades, go to college, graduate, work for a company you probably hate and a boss that bullies you into working overtime. And that’s just the way life is.
But this is not the case. We’ve had this mindset ingrained in us from a very early age but we can stray from it. We have to realise that having different values and priorities isn’t a bad thing.
We shouldn’t feel pressured to do what everyone else is doing, we are free to live our lives the way we want to. I’m a firm believer in doing things that feel right to you rather than what you’re told is right by the people around you.
Robert and I exploring St Petersburg, Russia
It would be unreasonable to presume that my perspective on settling down will stay the same for the duration of my life, I have no idea how I’ll feel about these things in 5 years time. One day I might have kids or buy a house in a location that I choose as my permanent home, but at the moment I don’t want to feel stuck in any one place. I want to travel, and this is my priority.
There is nothing wrong with having kids, a mortgage, a career, or anything associated with settling down – in fact, I have great respect for people that do it. It’s a lot of work to be able to manage one or all of those things and if that’s what makes you happy, then I’m all for it.
The problem is that many people realise too late that the opportunity for exploring the world and discovering themselves may have passed, they’ve settled down with kids and a mortgage and now have different priorities. Sometimes when I tell people about my lifestyle I get the response ‘Oh, I wish I’d travelled more when I was younger’ and all I can think of is that I don’t ever want to feel trapped in a life that I wished had turned out different.
My priorities for the moment are on travelling the world, and no one is going to convince me otherwise.