Unsettled Diaries: What Does It Mean To Live Unsettled?
By: Jonathan Kalan, Co-founder of Unsettled
What feelings does the word evoke for you? Where does it take you, and what’s your reaction to that journey in your mind? How comfortable, or uncomfortable, does it leave you?
As a former journalist, I know it’s generally taboo to start any piece of writing with a quote from a dictionary. But if you haven’t noticed already, we are a company built on breaking the rules, and our name itself is a provocation and challenge of the status quo. So, this feels merited.
To be unsettled is to be “lacking order or stability”, “not yet resolved,” or “continuously moving or changing”, to sample a few definitions.
Yet all definitions point the compass in one direction, and that direction is uncertainty. Which is what this post is ultimately all about.
Uncertainty has always been a constant force in society. It may actually be the only constant in life itself. Yet in just the past few decades, technology has increased the pace of change – how we communicate, live, work, and travel, – at a rate that can only be described as exponential, interlacing uncertainty into our lives far more than any generation before us.
One could say that humans are unable to cope with such rapid change. In fact, the late futurist Alvin Toffler made a similar argument in his 1970s book “Future Shock”, with an eerily accurate prediction of a hyper-connected society. He argued that too much technological and social change in too short a period of time would leave people disconnected and suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation”.
I’ve struggled myself with this concept, and if you’re reading this, perhaps you have too.
We live in an age where despite constant contact and connection, we’re statistically lonelier than ever before. We have the ability to travel with tremendous ease, yet we feel it’s harder to truly immerse ourselves in meaningful experiences. We find ourselves racing on the treadmill just to keep up with how quickly the world around us is changing, and that can unquestionably be stressful and disorienting at times.
Yet, if there’s one thing that we as humans are masters at, it is adaptation. We’ve become masters of evolution, of finding ways to learn, grow, and change.
Which brings us back to Unsettled.
It’s easy to think that “living Unsettled” is about pausing your current life, living in a new country, working remotely for a month and then going back to where it all started.
Yet we find living Unsettled to be, in many ways, the exact opposite. To us, living Unsettled is not just about where we live our lives, but how we live our lives. And that philosophy of how is deeply rooted in the name itself, and the uncertainty it implies.
In a time when that unsettling feeling of uncertainty seems like a growing force in our lives, ultimately how we handle that uncertainty is what determine how we navigate our way through life.
To live Unsettled means embracing the unknown and accepting the uncertainty that is required of us today.
It’s about committing to change as a constant in our lives, and living for a relentless pursuit of self-discovery, growth, and experimentation – on our own terms. Because when things around you become more uncertain, the most powerful thing you can do is be certain in yourself.
To live Unsettled is not to seek the answer to life’s biggest questions – or even the smallest, for that matter.
It’s to live for the process of questioning, with an awareness that the answers will keep changing as we grow.
This process takes time. It takes space. It requires that you constantly step outside of your comfort zone and immerse yourself in new environments and people.
I don’t believe we’re in a state of “future shock”, as Alvin Toffler predicted. Yes, modern society can be a bit (okay, very!) disorienting and stressful at times. But the beauty is that we have a choice in how we react to and engage with it. We can simply hop along for the ride, or we can take the helm and chart our own course.
Living Unsettled is about making that choice, and committing to the uncertainty that is bound to follow. It’s about setting your compass to true north, stepping into the unknown with intention and purpose, and surrounding yourself with the people who will push you to live more boldly, more fully, and show up as the best version of yourself, every single day. That’s what it means to me.
What does it mean to you?