Settled but not Static

Rachel Petroff Kessler
January 27, 2014
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When my husband turned thirty this fall, I played him this Tim McGraw song in honor of the occasion. My favorite line, “Maybe now I’ve conquered all my adolescent fears/and I’ll do it better in my next thirty years” encapsulates my hopes for this decade, which I’ll be entering myself in just a few months. I know it doesn’t work this way, but I like to imagine a switch flipping as I step into my 30s – turning off FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) and self-criticism and switching on self-acceptance and a full embrace of the life in front of me.

Our twenties were exciting – we experienced life in different places (remember 3 cities in 3 years?), received degrees, got married, and became parents. Our thirties hopefully will involve a lot less moving (or at the very least, will provide us with the enough extra income to hire movers) and a lot more settling. I know that from the outside, settling down can look like stagnation – staying at the same place, in the same career, surrounded by many of the same people.

It certainly is easy enough to fall into a rut and find yourself doing the same things over and over again – in our family we are particularly susceptible to food ruts. Going through the motions gets you through the day, and before you know it a year has gone by and nothing has changed. This is not the life I want. But my daughter has taught me better than anyone has before that safety and security can be found within predictability and routine. And within that safety and security? The confidence to try out new skills, knowing that you won’t be loved any less for failing (and that there will be people cheering you on as you renew your efforts and eventually find success). The confidence to turn around an unfamiliar bend, knowing that someone else will be right behind you.

My hope, as I approach this milestone year, is that settling down and putting down roots will also mean creating opportunities to grow. I’m looking forward to growing in my roles as partner, parent, educator, and friend. I’m looking forward to inching my way closer to my best self, without trying to turn into someone else. I’m looking forward to having the ground firm enough underneath my feet that I dare to reach high and jump.

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Rachel Petroff Kessler is the Family Educator at Temple Isaiah in Fulton, Maryland. Originally from upstate New York, Rachel has worked as a Jewish educator in a variety of settings, including Hillel at Binghamton, Kutz: NFTY’s Campus for Reform Jewish Teens, and Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Manhattan. Rachel graduated from HUC-JIR’s New York School of Education in April 2010 with a Masters in Religious Education and was a summer fellow at Yeshivat Hadar in 2009.

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