Monday, July 13, 2015

Settle Down

Apparently, I'm almost 30. 

I'm not - 25 is not actually quite as close to 30 as the 19th century might seem to think; especially in a world when I hear they've decided that 40 is the new 30. 

So why, I have to ask, do I keep hearing I'm at the age when I need to settle down? 

Sure my mother was married with me at this age, about to graduate as a lawyer, and living as far from home she could get without actually leaving the country. However when you compare the common rate of younger marriages and childbirth of 1990 with those of today then it's definitely not the same world it was when my parents settled down with me.

But what is 'settling down'? 

I'd check the Oxford or Maquarie dictionary to give you a quote but it's more of a slang term so I figured this one could take a swing from the urban dictionary. Or rather Google.

Our search database friend defines 'settling down' as: 

to become established in a dwelling place or in a permanent job, profession, or business : begin to live a normal life. 2. : to become inactive or sluggish.

First of all, what constitues a 'normal life' anymore? If we're talking white picket fence, kids, minivan, husband, dog and a mortgage I'll never pay off then I guess we'd be scraping right in on that 'settling down' scenario most of us are probably familiar with. Staying in a permanent place like a good sedentary human and having a stable job that pays the bills are definitely two things our parents and grandparents secretly hope we'll have since we're in highschool. But what about that last part of the definition that those same family members always like to overlook? 'To become inactive or sluggish' ? There is such a thing as being too settled but we'll come back to that. 

I've done a lot with my life by 25. I've been to university and gotten my degree in what I love (archaeology), spent two years doing fly in and fly out work in the outback, written a couple of books (it's not as easy to publish as movies make you think), travelled a good portion of the world, practically run a business and done very well, and I bought my own brand new car. Sure, I don't have a lot of money to my name, a house, a husband or a baby on the way but welcome to the 21st century where this is not an unusual thing. 

In fact, this is so usual now that a huge percentage of women are marrying later (if ever) and not having babies until later because they're focused on doing their own thing. In vitro and stem cell research now means we can even have babies a) without a man and b) much later than ever before that in turn leads us even greater to the conclusion that hey we've got time. 

And it's not just when it comes to marriages or babies. Although let's face it when you grow up with more than 50% of your friends with divorced parents and you're the weird one then you're probably not that positive about your own future marriage prospects. Especially when the world is so desperate to convince you love and fairy tales don't exist that it brings you some of the most disappointing pep talks of all time. 

Meeting someone is hard - no matter how happy a girl is with herself and how much she enjoys the single life, every single girl will at one time or another bemoan the complete lack of prospects she's has. It's universal and doesn't mean she loves herself any less, but love, companionship and sex are quite literally biological needs that women have to satiate before we can even think of settling down. Anyone who thinks we can just skip that step is either a little stupid of sorely misinformed (and companionship, love or sex don't always have to be in the romantic sense, men don't need to complete us, for this to be true). So when I still feel totally unsatisfied as a single woman for all of the above, how could I even think of settling down? I've got way too many boxes left to tick on that one. 

And speaking of boxes, moving in to your own place or buying a property is probably the biggest pipe dream every young person has driven mostly by what their parents think they should have. It's economical, yes, and the perfect foundation for a new family, and obviously the sneaky way of having us settle into a permanent place. But in 2015 not so long after the Global Financial Crisis and mining boom ended, where is the logic in trying to break into the market and begging for a mortgage? I don't know about you but even when I worked in the mines it would have taken me a little while to save the necessary amounts needed to pay a deposit on a house id have spent the next 40 or more years paying off on my solo salary. Now, in a far less well-paying job it would take me maybe twice as long if I start right now. But for what purpose? Yes, it's the proper thing to do, the old world thing, but when I've got so many boxes left to tick on the life experience chart then why bother chucking in my hat by myself and settling down prematurely? If I had a husband and 2.5 kids then I'm sure that would be different, but as a young 20something who can barely meet a guy I've got far more interesting things to spend my money on (like travel!) that enrichens my life and makes me far happier than spending the next 40 years broke. I'd rather be poor and well travelled, than poor with a house the bank still mostly owns. 

Moving out of home at a younger age isn't even as prevalent anymore on the piggy back of the GFC. Of my closest friends the only ones who have gone on to get their own place have either done so because of locational logistics, bad relationships with their family or very good ones with a special someone. And even then most of them are still living in the parental unit and apathetic about it. I haven't spent more than 6 months in the same place since university and keep seeming to find a next adventure needs to be had before feeling the desire to live in a crappy apartment of my own purely for the fact that society thinks I should. Obviously I will eventually, like next year hopefully in the UK as per current plans, but not just for the sake of it. I'd have to downgrade to a smaller place, pay more in rent and bills, not have pets (I've always had pets) and have to go through the laborious process of moving all my stuff. Call me lazy if you will, but unless I'm intending to entertain and orgy I'm perfectly content to stay where I am whilst I'm waiting it out in this city. I'm only here half the time anyway which leads me to my next point. 

We live in an almost back to basic kind of world in 2015. Like our predecessors way back in the Palaeolothic and before (Stone Age, if you will) we lived in groups, the young stayed with their parents for ages like lion prides because there was not as much logic in going off on their own as there is today. And in our groups we roamed in a nomad life style for survival without settling down because hey, when you don't have agriculture or a permanent food source you kind of have to keep searching for it. Today we do have those things, but we aren't so different as you might think. Our ancestors roamed in search of one kind of sustenance, and today we continue to do the same - we search for satisfaction in knowledge, cultural diversity, amusement, ideology and altruism. Why do you think so many young people travel now? And it's not just because it's easier to, because that never stopped the Victorians, but so many of us live in pursuit of pleasure, knowledge, ourselves. So many things. 

It's not what our parents or grandparents want to here but we are hugely different from their generations. Point of fact: the entire world is different to the way it was then. Why do we keep having older world terminology and expectations attributed to us? 

Why am I 25 going on 30 who despite all I've accomplished and all I've got planned for my life still come off like a spinster with no property like I'm Charlottle fricking Lucas? 

At the end of the day I'm happy not settling down like so many other people my age. I'll get married if and when I meet someone I love that much (who feels the same). I'll buy a house if and when I ever feel the drive to, can afford it and want to actually live there permanently (I'm not an economist enough to think about investment properties just yet). And most importantly of all I will settle down if and when I am damn ready to do so. 

Gwen Stefani said it pretty well, too:

Well, sort of.

Sam xox