They call it “the easy life” for a reason.
I got my degree from a small, public college in upstate New York.
People went there, got their degrees and then went off to have quiet and sometimes boring lives. Although a degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) system is a valuable commodity outside of New York, when you’re surrounded by hundreds of thousands of graduates in your home state, it doesn’t get you very far. And for most of the people who got a degree from my school, and others like it, that was OK by them. A comfortable, unadventurous life was something they wanted. In part, that’s why they went to a state school in the first place. As SUNY Potsdam will tell anyone who asks, most of their students come from within a two- to three-hour driving distance because they want to be close to home.
That always bugged me. Why would you want to stay so close to home, and then look for jobs around where you grew up? There’s an entire planet to explore! What are you doing?
But as I got older, I realized I was the one who was wrong. “Why would you want to stay so close to home?” was the wrong question to ask. The right question to ask was, “Why not?”
There is nothing wrong with living a comfortable and unadventurous life.
I know. This is the internet. The odds are good you just spent five minutes watching someone do something incredible. After watching that video, you probably thought to yourself, “Wow. I should totally go and punch a giant shark in the face.” Or maybe, “Sure. I can take that zip line over a volcano. Why not?” Then you realized, like most people, that you’d rather go hiking instead. But then you find hiking is super boring and nature kind of sucks. Especially if you’re like me, and insects make you the main course every time you enter the woods.
It’s then you begin to realize, as I did when I turned 33, that maybe the adventurous life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. It just looks fun, and because we’re regularly exposed to other people’s allegedly fun lives, that makes us imagine doing the same things with our own.
If you want to live in a beautiful, comfortable apartment, and chill out and watch Netflix on the weekends? (And I mean really watch Netflix, which is why I put the “chill” first there), there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s your life. You should do what makes you happy. Honestly, I read a lot of books. If I can spend my weekends working on my comic and reading a good book? I’m as happy as a clam.
I’ve been to Russia. You know what they don’t tell you about going to an exotic place like Russia? That nobody washes their car, people drive like maniacs and there are no road signs anywhere. (So I guess then the real adventure is just driving around Moscow and surviving it.) Instead all you see is a cool photo of someone in front of St. Basil. We get these glimpses, but the glimpses are just lies with a nice Instagram filter.
I think we’re all caught up in this crazy positivity bubble where everyone has to be happy and doing something awesome to maintain their happiness, but nobody ever stops and says, “Yo. I’m going to bed at 10pm. Peace out, losers.” Because we’re told that’s not cool. But think about who’s telling you that. Generally, the “who” are movies and TV shows written by people who spend more time at their computers wishing they were doing literally anything else and pumping those wishes into the characters they’re writing.
The truth is, it’s totally cool to go to bed at 10pm. Or read books on the weekend. Or live your life close to home.
Because nobody should be in the business of telling you all the things you should be doing to be happy. You have to decide and figure that out for yourself. And then make a concentrated effort to regularly do those things. If you find that reading books on the weekend is that thing? That’s awesome. And if you can find someone who has that very same interest? Hey, that’s even better. That’s a partner you want to spend the rest of your life with.
There’s no rule book. There’s nothing written in stone that says, “You need to party all night, throw up on a stranger and sleep until 12” to be happy. There are, to be sure, vested financial interests out there, mostly in the form of advertisers, who certainly want you to believe that. But they’re wrong. These are the same people who have made football and baseball games almost unbearable to watch thanks to endless commercial breaks with the same stupid commercials on repeat for three hours. (Jesus, guys, at least give us some fresh creative, will you?)
Don’t take my word for it. Instead, I encourage you to do one simple thing:
Ask yourself why you want the things you want.
That’s it. Nice and straightforward. If there’s not a logical reason to want that thing? You don’t need it—and more likely, you don’t really want it, either.
Now wait, before I let you go, I know what some of you are thinking: “When I get old, I don’t want to have any regrets.” You know who might actually have regrets? My grandparent’s generation. Because when they got old, there wasn’t anything for them to do or see when they retired.
Now, Baby Boomers are working into their 70s, and since there’s less and less of a social safety net, Gen-X is likely to work for that long, if not longer. And that means they all have money with which to … you guessed it: Go and do the things they’d like to do.
The whole “I’m old and regret everything” thing doesn’t fly anymore.
You might one day find yourself in your 60s, deciding to take a swim in the Amazon. I have no idea why you’d like to do that, but let’s say you did! Nothing is there to stop you. If you eat right, work out, remember to walk around and stretch instead of sitting all day, there are few reasons—beyond mental ones—that will prevent you from doing whatever you want in life, regardless of age.
Sure, time catches up to us all in one way or another, but that’ll happen regardless of whether or not you’re at home reading a book or swimming in the Amazon.
So I say: Hang out, read a book and put up your feet. It’s your life. Be as boring as you want to be.