Growing up we moved around a lot, and I really loved it. Every city, state, and school was a chance to reinvent
Even in my
As a result, I’ve learned a lot about myself. I learned what activities I do and do not love. I learned what careers do and do not work for me. I learned what places I do and do not enjoy living. And yes, I learned what hairstyles do and do not look great on me. And all of that has been a very positive experience for me.
But this past year, I’ve noticed something new emerging: the opportunity to enjoy life just as it is. The beauty of sameness. The joy of knowing that this is the job I love and want to stick with for years to come. The idea that this house, and this city, is the perfect place for me, and that I want to stay living here forever. The idea that this hairstyle suits me just fine, and that I can wear it that way for the foreseeable future.
These ideas are new to me. In the past, every couple of years, I would get a little bored, and start craving some big disruption in my life. There was this desire to sort of blow up my whole life and start over. If that didn’t happen, I would get antsy and start doing things like chopping off all my hair or throwing away all my clothing so I could start a new closet.
The interesting thing is that I now realize the mindset behind all of that: it’s rooted in a fear of mediocrity. Have you ever run into a friend you knew ten years ago, only to find they are still doing the exact same thing they were doing ten years ago? Same job, same house, same haircut? That is my biggest fear. The stagnant life. The one where nothing changes, and where life is just the same life as anyone else’s.
To avoid such stagnancy, I did what I could to spice it up. Changing locations, jobs, and haircuts depending on the whims of the moment. Except that overtime, I started to find some constants in my life. My husband was probably my first one. He was the first boyfriend that lasted longer than a couple weeks, and I’ve since decided to keep him forever. Then there was Salt Lake City, the first place I lived that I actually wanted to stay. Then there was the job. The first job I actually wanted to keep.
This feeling has permeated my life. I found the perfect house. I honed in on my perfect style. I’ve found the perfect ballet studio. Overtime, I’ve started to really love things. And instead of wanting to change them, I’ve wanted them to stay the same. To keep them in my life just as they are. And that has led me to wonder: in ten years, will I be one of those boring people I’ve always feared becoming? Or worse, will I absolutely love being that person?
Now I know that there are positives associated with being a so-called neophiliac. According to one article in The New York Times, it’s thought this penchant for novelty may have been an important survival skill and one that was prevalent in those adventurers who crossed the Bering
But what happens after the adventure? When you reach your destination only to become perfectly content to set up a homestead and live there forever? With no more I
Well for me two things happened: The first was an overwhelming sense of happiness. I think all the time about how much I love my job, how much I love my couch, how pretty my house is, and how fortunate I am to have the friends I have. I look at my closet way too much, because the clothing in it is so perfectly suited to my taste, and I love spending my evenings dancing ballet, or working on my novel. It’s just the sort of thing that’s perfect for me.
But then there’s the second thing that happened. And that’s that every now and then I’ll find my mind trying to sabotage that happiness. Because in the past I was always searching for the next best thing—the more perfect job, the even better sweater—I now sometimes find myself stuck in that mindset. Always searching for the next thing, even if I have the perfect thing already.
This has led to some pretty poor decision making in recent months. For instance: the time my husband and I decided to buy a condo in Park City. It took us a dark night of the soul to realize we already have our dream home, so why the heck were we trying to buy a second one? Then
And that comes from an unhealthy preoccupation with newness. With needing everything to be all new all the time. That quality served me well when it came to helping me find the perfect job and the perfect house. But now that I have those things, it has become important for me to realize the value of sameness. Of the things I already have. And to let myself love my life the way it is without needing some big new adventure to disrupt it.
I think I will still always crave a more interesting life. But I think there are healthier ways to do that. Traveling to exotic new countries, for instance. Or taking on foster cases as a CASA advocate. Maybe eventually I’ll adopt a child or write a screenplay. Or maybe I won’t. But I don’t need to move or switch jobs or buy things. I don’t need to uproot my entire life anymore.
Because I think there is value in the so-called “settled” life. And that is a lesson it took me 34 years to learn.