DC has a reputation for being extremely transient — meaning most people who live here probably moved into the area recently, and within a few years, will likely move again. It’s a city where people come to work, and they work hard. So hard that they only stay long enough to either burn out or decide to go back to school.
Living here, you meet, greet, and say goodbye to a lot of people. Eventually, everyone starts looking for a little change.
Maybe you realize that you need a graduate degree to get to that next level professionally, or discover an amazing opportunity to travel and change the world. Or, if you’re like me, you just realize that you aren’t pursuing the life you really want.
You’ve Convinced Yourself That Everything is Fine (For Now)
Finally fed up with my with my dead end job and struggling to tolerate a pair of inconsiderate roommates, I was pissed off, miserable, and determined to fix both problems immediately. I looked at apartment listings and applied to every job I could find — I was adamant that I would make a change.
But once I found a more comfortable situation, I settled in. Things were good! Comfy apartment, flexible job, great friends — like I said…comfortable. And I started to tell myself, “This is fine.” And after a few months, I found myself quietly adding “…for now.”
You can be perfectly comfortable in the situation you’re in, but the idea of spending three to five years doing the exact same thing can be a little terrifying—cue the “OH MY GOD, WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE?” freak out (aka, Welcome to your quarter-life crisis!).
While I was perfectly happy where I was, I knew it was only a temporary fix. And that’s the magic word: temporary. Reassuring myself that I wouldn’t still be doing the same things a few years from now (working an entry-level job, spending 60% of my income on rent, etc.) was what made it okay to be doing it right now.
Most people in their 20s are looking to grow — better jobs, more money, more responsibility, nicer home. Rarely (if ever) does anyone land that ideal, life-long situation before they hit 30. But we’re also not too far off from things being comfortably “good enough.” When you’re not actively miserable, it’s a little harder to convince yourself that growth and change is necessary.
Because “being comfortable” shouldn’t be the enemy. So life is cozy, what’s wrong with that?
There is a Difference Between Comfortable and Complacent
Comfortable is when you’re happy with your current situation.
Complacent is when you’re simply accepting things the way they are.
Complacency is believing that your current situation is…well, it’s fine. Sure, you’d like to be doing more outside of your job, you’d like to make more money, you’d like to take on bigger projects at the office… but you’ve got a good situation right now. Why mess with that?
For me, I became complacent in the idea that life would happen and things would change FOR me. I was happy, why not just wait for life to throw another wrench into things? It certainly had always done so in the past. Once I was stable and secure, it was just a matter of time before the universe decided to muddle things up again, right?
Except, after a year and a half, nothing was happening. And I started to think to myself, sure, everything’s fine for now…but what if things don’t change? What if…I’m still here in five years doing the Exact. Same. Thing?
Deciding You Want More
Maybe it was getting assigned ANOTHER PowerPoint presentation for work. Maybe it seeing my rent go up, but not my paycheck. Maybe it was seeing my friends get promoted to senior level positions. Maybe it was spending another weekend in the city because my ride to go hiking canceled on me last minute.
Finally, it clicked. Sure, this life was fine…for now. But I wanted more. And it wasn’t that there was anything objectively wrong with my situation, it was that I wasn’t actively doing anything to improve my situation.
And that’s the worst part: I had let the universe control my life rather than taking the reins myself.
For some of us, the moment comes when we just can’t take it anymore, and in fit of rage and glory, leap into the unknown. Others are a slow burn, taking baby steps into uncertainty and warily parsing through the doubts.
But we all have that moment when we realized…sure, things are fine. They aren’t the worst. But they could be better.
I can make them better. I can be better.
And that’s the moment you stop being complacent and start living again.