They say life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans, right? It’s a Lennon quote, I know that. I may have botched a few words, but I really wanted to give the whole recital-from-memory thing a try.
Regardless of the semantics, the quote is true. A lot of times, we’ll be looking so far down the road that we might miss the little things, like the hundred dollar bill crumpled on the pavement – right under our own feet.
The irony of it all is that everyone’s just scrambling around and ultimately doing nothing. If I had a nickel for each time one of my friends has told me, “Dude, I can’t wait to finally settle down," trust that my Instagram account would put Dan Bilzerian's to shame.
Can’t wait to settle down? I would think to myself.
Settling down is great, but it’s not something you should plan ahead for. It’s just sort of something that happens, eventually, without any effort. That’s why they call it “settling down,” in the first place – over time you just, I don’t know, settle down.
And that’s cool, really. When it’s time to settle down, I’ll be ready for it -- waiting with open arms and a set of discount codes from Groupon. But before then, it’s time to focus on the pre-settle down, and the part of the meal that’s currently on our plate. The amuse-bouche, if you will.
Here are the five things every man should do before settling down.
5. Travel as much as possible.
Before a man can settle down, he must do the opposite – which, in my book, is wander around aimlessly.
Whether it be far and wide within the confines of your own city, across the country, or internationally – exploration of culture and self can add continued inspiration to the most mundane of lives.
Additionally, traveling humbles you. There will come a time, probably around your early 20s, when you feel invincible. You know everything, and frankly, nobody can tell you sh*t.
And that may be the law of the land at your college, or in your frat house – or any comfort zone for that matter – but I promise you, after an extended period of traveling, you’ll suddenly realize you can see past your own nose. If you truly want to, that is.
4. Sleep with a ton of women.
There’s no spiritual, soulful explanation for this one – and I think I’m fine with that. Sex is a critical aspect of life, and so is the notion of “playing the field.”
Put ‘em both together, and – voila! – you should soon start to see the importance of having sampled the fare before settling down.
In order to know what you want, you’ll have to learn what you like. A lot of dudes will jump into relationships because they’ve seen a few guys in their graduating class update their relationship statuses to “engaged” on Facebook.
If you’re single, act single. There’s nothing more counterintuitive than the desperately-eligible bachelor who sits around daydreaming about future wedding plans.
3. Get his heart broken by one girl.
I know they say the first love is the sweetest, but that first cut is the deepest. And it usually takes some time to scab before it ultimately scars and heals for good. In my mind, heartbreak is a rite of passage necessary for manhood.
It’s like when you would practice basketball with your dad in the driveway as an 8-year-old, thinking you could start for the varsity team. Right before you’d go inside for dinner, dad would finally “try” for a brief second – just to keep your guard up.
In the blink of an eye, he’d steal the ball effortlessly from your dribble and tell you to “protect the ball better.” Well, after heartbreak, you learn to protect your own emotions – and even the important people in your life – better.
2. Spoil yourself.
The pleasure derived from doing things for other people is one of the greatest feelings around. And so is the pleasure derived from doing things for yourself. Before settling down, it’s really not selfish to focus on yourself – even for just a hot second.
As you grow, you’ll (hopefully) have a wife to focus on, kids to provide for, parents to look after. After boarding that line toward manhood, responsibility will seemingly grow with each passing day.
Cater to yourself while you can. Make strides in your own career, chase opportunities and spend the fruits of your own hard labor.
1. Be stupid.
When you settle down with someone, you’ll be forced to be smart. You’ll be depended on, and with dependence comes a sense of responsibility. Be stupid while you can.
I mean, think about it: If you’re ever going to pick a time to land flat on your face, shouldn’t it be when you’re younger and have the time and freedom to pick yourself back up?
Go out, meet people, try things, bounce around places – even if the people close to you might suggest otherwise. That “YOLO” thing, as stupid as it is, is true.
When you die, there’s no going back or taking pride in all the things you didn’t do. When it’s time for that last call, you’re only but a sum of your experiences.
So you might as well make those experiences as enjoyable as possible.