I had a plan once. I had an anchor, too. My anchor was filled with intelligence, maturity, structure, and determination. However, what I’ve come to learn about anchors is that they can sometimes drag you down, keep you stationary, prevent you from following the winds and tides of your fated course. As much as I tried to trust this anchor, I resisted. I resisted being held down, I resisted settling. This anchor provided me with stability, but also dependence. I sat in an ocean of monotony waiting for my horizons to come to me. It was a long time before I realized that I’m more of a go with the flow kind of girl.
Being the child of two whimsical, eccentric, unsystematic actors made plans a hard thing to come by. I grew up in a world of spontaneity and randomness: From last minute trips to catch the sunsets to performing Shakespeare by the fire on a school night. Structure was a foreign concept to me when I first started developing my plan—what some may call the American Dream. Graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree, hopefully find a career, get married, have children, find a nice house with a white picket fence that keeps me boxed into my comfort zone. For some, this is a beautiful life. Something to be proud of and thankful for. As for myself, the idea of settling down actually couldn’t be more unsettling.
I was on the road to simplicity for three years of my early twenties. My “anchor” who kept me at a steady pace on this road, consistently nudged me towards moving in, marriage, and starting a family. I was quickly met with the conflict of heart and mind: logic versus passion. For so long I tried to convince myself that I wanted this life of normalcy, stability, and comfort. Watching my parents struggle to make ends meet most of my life, I welcomed the ideas of what was right for my future. I began to let go of my free-spirited nature and outlandish ideas. I wanted to be taken care of, I wanted a man with a good head on his shoulders, I wanted a big house in a decent area. However, there was something small yet powerful in the back of my mind that emanated resistance to this lifestyle. A force that wanted to grow, as much as I tried to suppress it with the reassurance of a safe life. This force eventually pushed itself through the cracks of my mundane mindset, blossoming into a beautiful reminder of who I am and what drives me. This force was desire.
Like the return of an old friend, I embraced the feeling wholeheartedly. Recognizing the difference between a want and a desire was like waking up from a coma. Confusing and overwhelming, but also beautiful and exhilarating as a new world lay before me. For me, it seems that wants are temporary feelings that float aimlessly through my mind. Contrastingly, desire roots itself deep within my soul and remains until satisfied. It is an everlasting fire that warms me with encouragement to continue traveling, writing, and being an environmental activist. As refreshing as it was to find this part of me again, it came with sacrifice. What I have learned is that the ability to follow your heart is both a blessing and a curse.
I made the decision to choose passion over logic, letting go of a 1950’s style relationship that was stagnant but stable. Although I knew I could not marry this man, my heart ached because in a way I wish I wanted to. Despite perhaps not being in love, we still loved and cared for each other deeply. I have no shame in admitting that it pains me to think he will walk down the aisle one day with the woman I could not be. The woman that he tried so hard to mold me into, the bird whose wings he could not clip nor cage. The Tiffany rings, the Coach bags, the Calvin Klein Jackets…he provided me with all the material luxuries in life, but I knew all along that my love could not be bought. It is difficult to not take this upon myself to feel alien and abnormal for not wanting a simple lifestyle where I am spoiled with luxury. However, this chapter in my life has taught me that true love should be effortless and involves no need to change your significant other. More importantly, there should never be a need to change yourself for anyone else. Remember who you are, what you love, what you value, and what you desire.
Societal pressures push upon us daily: From engagement and pregnancy announcements on Facebook to locking ourselves in a depressing yet well-paying career just to pull ourselves out of college debt. Perhaps the concept of the American Dream has transitioned into the American expectation. We have become conditioned to constantly think in terms of steps—Graduate? Get a job. Married? Have kids. The result, the last “step” is the same for all of us. It’s just a matter of how quickly you decide to live your life. To me, it doesn’t seem worth it to speed down a road when I know I’m going to be hitting a red light either way.
Some may find me to be unrealistic as well as unrelatable. There are many women in the world who would love and deserve to be showered with the most expensive jewelry and pocketbooks, who don’t mind watching HGTV marathons on a sunny Saturday, or who would prefer staying in most Friday nights and going to sleep by ten pm. After three years of these experiences, I can confidently say this lifestyle is not for me. I used to detest myself because I felt wild and untamable, but now I know that my piece just didn’t fit into that puzzle. I will always yearn for new horizons, chasing sunsets, and acting on my passions. I was consistently told I needed to “get this out of my system” but now I look forward to having a significant other in the future who can handle my extreme love and appreciation for life.
Before I left for Europe, I wrote down a question for myself to answer upon my return: Am I a simple person who, maybe does want to settle down but due to societal pressures, constantly has a fear of missing out? Or, am I an adventurer? The one who needs an open road ahead? The one who seeks excitement and unique people in her life for fulfillment? My “anchor” awaits my answer for when I return. Reading this in retrospect, I’m thankful that the strength of my desire outweighed that of my comfort zone, because if I never stepped out of the idea of that white picket fence I would not be where I am today. I’ve learned that complacency is comforting, but bliss is golden. Simplicity, maybe we’ll meet again one day, perhaps I’ll be ready for you in the future. For now, I’ve let go of my anchor and I am setting sail on this unpredictable, relentless sea that we call life, thankful to finally be moving towards my horizons.