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Growing up: Can I settle down and be offbeat at the same time?

By on May 7th

Can a white picket fence co-exist with an exciting life? Photo by It, used under Creative Commons license.

As I close in on the end of college and start making plans for an adulthood that includes my boyfriend, I find myself with a case of cold feet. We're talking about buying a house together, and I'm surprised that 23-year-old-me looks like she's going straight from college into settling down. It's a much straighter path than I expected to take!

Am I crazy for not cramming in as much sex, drugs, and travel before I start owing money to the bank and dropping sprogs? Can I still have an exciting, quirky life with all that grown up stuff to deal with?

Thank you in advance, I am really struggling with this.
I look forward to hearing your ever inspiring, educated and friendly responses.

Peace out! – Sinéad

Hi Sinéad! Okay, I think I got this.

No, you are not crazy. Yes, you can still have an exciting life. Marching to the beat of your own drum doesn't equate to running wild down the streets and throwing all caution to the wind. Being a grown up is about committing to things you want to accomplish, and carrying out the responsibilities required to work toward your goals.

Sometimes goals come into conflict with each other, and you have to weigh how to handle that friction. For instance, it may take some work to be an adventurous, world-traveling offbeat mama, or to pull off living in a home that floats or uses no paper goods — and I mean NO PAPER GOODS. It will usually take a little noodling to figure out how to make your life work in conjunction with your goals, but that's kind of exactly what an offbeatling is: someone who places non-traditional values among her highest priorities.

Not every life plan will be compatible, but many goals just take some special accommodations to work together. You might literally want to live in a hole in the ground, AND to be the next CEO of your company; these things aren't mutually exclusive, but you're definitely going to be feeling out your own way in the world. It will probably take more work for you than it does for most people to fit your values and goals together.

So, what are your goals? You're approaching a big life change, so this is a good time to review them if you haven't already. What do you want to have done in six months? How about in five years? If your current ambitions go as well as you possibly hope they can (and hope high!), where will you be then?

You might find reason in these goals to plant yourself. For example, I am still kind of surprised we own a home. My partner and I decided to to buy a house fairly suddenly, after realizing we needed a permanent homebase where we could work on projects.

SHORT VERSION: You can totally do this. Your offbeat life can absolutely shadow the path of a "traditional" one. Just keep your goals and priorities in mind, for your own sake!

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