(Note: Please read the word “forever” Sandlot style each and every time you see it in this post, unless otherwise instructed. Forrr-eeeeevv-errrrr.)
You walked into the interview, head held intentionally high and your shoulders squared in the way that screams, “COME AT ME, BRO.” You aced it, the hiring manager offered you the position with a firm shake of his hand that could really use some Udder Cream, and then you headed up to HR to snap a less-than-flattering photo that makes you look more Marilyn Manson than Marilyn Monroe. This is a great job, and you can’t wait to work here forever.
Cut to four months later. You’re out at the neighborhood bar, a charming little ditty that has framed, faded pictures of the bartenders as kids, tea kettles on shelves counteracting the row of fine ass whiskeys. You see them, across the way, playing darts so poorly and laughing so hysterically at their failed attempts that you can’t help but laugh with them, striding over with an air of bravado and demanding the two of you get a drink. You hit it off, kiss at the door, start dating. And a year later, with their warm body snuggled in your bed and their clothes in your closet, you can’t wait to be with them forever.
And two weeks after that, you discover a breakfast cereal that has dried strawberries and lightly sweetened flakes. And as you spoon mouthful after mouthful into your face, crunching just the right amount and basking in the balance, you look at the box adoringly, gently trail your finger over the old man mascot printed in the corner, and decide that you can’t wait to eat this cereal forever.
Do you see where I’m going?
Forever is literally the worst fucking f-word that has ever graced the human language.
Because as soon as you commit to a lifetime of certainties, you start to become rigid and immobile, incapable of flexibility and set in your ways. Adventure becomes optional. Discovery gets dismissed. And your freedom gets flung out the door with a swiftly-placed kick of your foot.
Am I saying you shouldn’t get married, shouldn’t buy a house, shouldn’t sign a contract? AWH, HELL NAH. I’m just saying—maybe it’s worth evaluating to what degree we go around slamming doors and burning bridges before we’ve knocked around to see what else might be waiting on the other side. (Spoiler: Not Bob Saget. Bob Saget is not waiting for you on the other side.)
Signing on to forever means also committing to never.
It’s a double-edged sword we so often overlook. Going to the same coffee shop on Broadway for forever means you’ll never step foot into the one downtown. Using the same shampoo for forever means you’ll never know the benefits of top-shelf suds. Being set in your ways for forever means you’ll never try new ways.
You’re an adaptable creature who craves to conquer change and flirt with flexibility, so why lock yourself into a permanent box of forever promises?
What if we were to decide to commit as long as it makes sense. What if we were to stay as long as we’re proud? What if we were to adapt an approach that was less, “as long as you can,” and more “as long as you’d like?”
Nothing is permanent. Few things are forever. And putting the stress on yourself to sign on to something for the rest of your life is like shooting yourself in the thigh with a shotgun simply because you’re not sure if you’ll ever like running.
On a basic level, this is opportunity cost 101 at its finest. Except the cost isn’t merely the other thing you could be doing.
Because when you’re giving up living in order to “start a life,” and you’re forgoing fun in favor of “getting it done,” and you’re working so hard but never stopping to love JUST AS HARD?
The cost, my friend, is you.