When I saw that our first joint VOW was SETTLE, I thought to myself man, that’s kind of a bleak way to start the year. I began to run through the list of things about myself that I need to just inevitably with: my tight budget, my acne prone skin, the fact that I’ll never be able to air dry my hair without looking like either a clown or Sean White (evidenced here). Somehow, bitching about my insecurities in detail didn’t seem like the best way to endear readers.
All our lives we’re told that settling is this dark, undesirable thing. Especially the millennial* generation who were taught by the Baby Boomers who raised them you’re a special flower, never settle, follow your path and your dreams. YOU CAN BE WHATEVER YOU WANT TO BE.
For Christmas I gifted my family Strengths Finder — a personality profiling tool I’m obsessed with that tells you what you’re really great at. Of the 34 themes, you see only your top 5 traits; your lowest are left to your imagination. This theory is counter to how most of us lead our lives. You know, how we tend to believe that with enough practice, dedication, and grit we can excel at anything we set our sights on. We often presume that what’s worthwhile ought to be hard won. But the author, Tom Rath, reveals this mentality doesn’t actually get us as far as we assume:
The reality is that a person who was always struggled with numbers is unlikely to be a great accountant or statistician. And the person without much natural empathy will never be able to comfort an agitated customer in the warm and sincere way that the great empathizers can. Even the legendary Michael Jordan, who embodied power and raw talent on a basketball court, could not become, well, the “Michael Jordan” of golf or baseball, no matter how hard he tried.
Strengths Finder reveals one of the most simple-yet-impactful insights I’ve gained as an adult:
You cannot be anything you want to be — but you can be a lot more of who you already are.
This further reminded me of a quote from Amy Poehler’s incredible essay memoir book Yes, Please. She talks about how she accepted early in life that she would never be considered an incredible beauty. Rather, she won people over with her tenacity, her humor, and her positivity. As Poehler advises in her book:
Decide what your currency is early.
Let go of what you will never have.
Remembering this profound advice (see, I really do love truth nuggeted in a quote), I asked myself why I considered settling so goddamn depressing. Settling can be freeing. Hell, that’s part of the whole reason I chose to EMBRACE this year — making peace with the things which do not help me thrive.
But I didn’t want to mimic my verb from last week. And yes, self acceptance is work and there is progress to be made there, but I wanted action items, dammit.
And then I came across this little article about hygge (pronounced HOU-gah) the Danish concept — nay, way of life — which is infiltrating the American mentality that we need to promote these perfectly crafted, exciting, glamorous lives via social media. Because how else would people know we were happy?
Hygge is about simplicity. It’s about quiet, cozy spaces with those whom we consider intimates. Grab some unscented candles, hot chocolate, fleece anything, and park yourself in front of a fire with a good book or your best friends. Hygge isn’t about being impressive. It isn’t about grandiosity or social media vanity. It’s about a stillness, a realness, that comes with settling in.
Like the rest of the country, temperatures dropped in the South, granting us enough snow (less than 1″) for a snow day and the deep desire to curl up in bed with all the makings for a good hygge. The virus I acquired some days before put me in just such a mood.
This week alone I finished two books, perfected a homemade hot chocolate recipe, enjoyed winter vegetable soup. Hell, Tuesday I didn’t even leave my bed at all.
My time in Alabama has been significantly different than my life in Colorado was. I’m alone most of the time and my true extroverted nature is coping with this change magnificently well. There are often times when I miss having a close friend nearby, miss the social life where I needed to make plans three weeks out.
But there are other times when I’m thankful for this shift. I needed a pause; in Fort Collins my life was go-go-go for a very long time. This new phase, like the general pace of the region, is steadier. It’s more settled. And simply because it is new and uncomfortable doesn’t mean I don’t wear it well.
…And really, when what I’m wearing is so comfy and snuggly, why would I want to change?
*I’m not knocking millennials; they get enough of that elsewhere anyway. I consider myself part of the transitional generation rather than a Millennial. I remember life before the internet which, working in higher ed with true Millennials, whom I feel both united and separate from. They get a bad rap, those Millennials, and I do not mean to exacerbate it. Their differences are neither good nor bad, they have simply been raised in a world very, very different than the one any of the rest of us were born into.
Lin’s VOW mantra: Find joy in the ordinary.
Lin’s Song of the Week: Home by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros
Be sure to read up on Steph’s post about #VOWsettle.