It occurred to me this sunny Friday afternoon that much of my life is governed by what I feel like I should be doing.
When I first moved back to Dallas—determined to build an intentional foundation for my new life—I was very proactive about trying to establish a social network so I wouldn’t have to sit at home alone on Friday nights.
And, as we know, a central tenet of living with intention is making the first move. Deciding what you want and going for it. Being willing to put yourself out there and try to arrange plans with people who may not ordinarily think to include you. Because, you know, you moved here five minutes ago.
How else does one make new friends and build a network in a new place? And worse, what happens if one can’t?
Whether it’s my impatience or constant compulsion to make things happen, I set a goal for myself: Do something with someone every single day. Make plans after work, go out on weekends, get brunch on Sunday—the whole nine. Leave no mimosa unturned.
Of course, this plan didn’t always come to fruition. There were Mondays where errands took precedence over trying to rope some poor soul into Happy Hour with me and Fridays where I couldn’t wrangle a crew. Most of the time, however, it was successful.
There were other times (the Fourth of July stands out in my mind) in which I would realize the day before a holiday or weekend that I didn’t have any plans in place yet (gasp) and go into a brief panic—not because I was hell-bent on doing something fun, but because of what the lack of plans symbolized to me.
It never occurred to me (until today) that there’s nothing inherently wrong with sitting at home on a Friday night.
I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in what we want to happen (a full-time job, a solid core group of friends, a relationship, etc.) that we exhaust all our energy trying to set the wheels in motion and chase after it. I was always taught that you get what you work for, and I’ve applied that mantra to both my professional and personal life.
But recently I’ve begun to think that sometimes you have to let the good things come to you—you don’t always have to be out chasing them. (To be sure, I still think you should chase after things you want. Just don’t feel like you always have to be.)
For example, I woke up on the morning of the Fourth of July feeling defeated that I hadn’t secured any solid plans, and before long, I had three different options (all of which more or less fell into my lap as the day progressed).
What’s meant to be yours will come to you, if you’re open to it.
And sometimes, in the rush to make something happen, we end up settling for anything. For the first thing that comes along. When I really think about it, I’d rather wait for the right thing—the right group of friends, the right job—rather than taking the first thing that crosses my path out of desperation for something because I feel like that’s what I should be doing.
While it may feel ironic in light of my blog recently where I chastise the boys my age for wanting to “keep their options open,” in a lot of ways, I think some of us should take a page out of their skeevy playbook. In the words of my girl Megyn Kelly, I think sometimes we have to settle for more.
Go on a lot of job interviews. Get drinks with whomever asks. Be open to the possibility of it being better than you expected, and don’t rule things out immediately.
But don’t accept an offer you aren’t thrilled about. Don’t invest a lot of time in people who don’t understand you or make you a better person. Keep your options open.
The tyranny of the should is the subtle, yet omnipresent, timeline we give ourselves for figuring things out. It places an arbitrary countdown timer on our decision-making process and can make us feel rushed to do things we may not be entirely sure about.
My friend Meredith is such a lovely example of someone who felt frustrated by her inability to land a job immediately post-grad. An incredible writer and stand-out student with plenty of experience, she couldn’t understand why she kept having metaphoric doors slammed in her face.
She recently accepted a job with the massive publishing company, Condé Nast, and said she “realized why the universe was making her wait.” Making her wait for the right thing. The universe, or “higher power,” as she called it, was working on its own timeline—it just didn’t happen to line up with the one she thought she needed to be on.
Someday, someone is going to look at you and say, “You are everything I have ever wanted and I cannot imagine a life without you.” Can you imagine jumping on an earlier offer of, “I think you’re all right and I can’t think of anything wrong with you so I guess this is fine,” because you felt pressured to pick someone?
Hold out for it. It’s coming, and it’s going to be great. Settle for more.
The fine print: