Last week I was talking with a friend of mine about a mutual friend of ours who has, to put it bluntly, settled for less than she is worth. She is in a relationship with a man who is unable to be authentic with her. He lied about his job when they met, even going to the extent of borrowing a mate’s work uniform when he met her, to carry off the illusion of this career fantasy he had constructed, and went to some effort regaling fake work stories. He only came clean when she found a pay slip in his drawer – some months into their relationship – revealing his employment reality to be much less grandiose than he had claimed. Hardly a solid foundation for a healthy relationship. Yet, for reasons I am not privy to (and nor should I be), she went on to marry him.
When I reflected later on this conversation, I realised that I, too, have settled.
It’s not my place to judge anyone for their romantic choices – particularly given my own gloriously ugly history in this department. But while I respect her right to make her own choices, those choices bother me – even though, as noted, it is none of my damn business. Her choices bother me because it appears to me – from my privileged position on the outside with no understanding of what it’s *actually* like inside that relationship – that she has settled.
I do understand the desire to settle.
Where I grew up, the pressure to get married and produce children was so intense that many times in my 20s I wondered whether it would be easier to just pick a not-right-but-not-wrong guy to achieve the appearance of a successful life, instead of hedging my bets on the possibility (wait make that PROBABILITY!) that I will meet a man who I connect with on a deep level. I didn’t choose to settle but I’d be lying if I didn’t occasionally regret that. But as the wise Elizabeth Gilbert is fond of noting, the safe option is not actually safe (in this case because it would lead to a lifetime of dissatisfaction and regret).
The word ‘settle’ is a big one for me. Not long after the aforementioned conversation, a very dear friend, the gorgeous blogger Glitter Is My Favourite Colour, sent me a poem that she thought might resonate with me (she was right – it did). I’ll copy it below, but to give you a quick overview, it’s all about stepping out of mediocrity to follow your own path. What stood out to me most strongly was the word ‘settle’. Even though I have not settled in love, there are areas of my life – I now realise – in which I am settling.
When you settle, you say to the Universe: I’m not willing to reach for the amazingness I deserve, I’ll take ‘good enough’. There are all sorts of reasons we might do that, but mostly they come back to fear of failure and lack of appreciation for just how powerful and worthy of greatness we are.
Being honest with myself, I’ve realised there are a couple of friendships in which I’m doing all the work (making the contact, organising the catch-ups) and getting nothing back. This has really been bothering me lately. It bothers me because I’m settling for friendships in which the other person is not emotionally invested nor even particularly interested in participating in. Healthy friendships are a two-way street – and I have a lot of these in my life, which I’m very grateful for. These other friendships are doing nothing but zapping my time and energy. As the meme declares: ain’t nobody got time for that.
I’m also settling in a professional sense. I’m not pitching for meaty stories that would be stretch me and bring me greater satisfaction. I’m not stepping forward with my spiritual business because I’m terrified it will fail. I’m not addressing my volatile financial state because I’m scared I will be poor my entire life. These are all areas that need my attention. They are not easy to fix, but I think shifting the unhealthy mindset behind them is a very good place to start.
The Universe brought this to my attention, I believe, because I’ve been asking for guidance on how I can push forward and expand this year. The message I’m receiving is: don’t settle. Sure, unsatisfying friendships and limited professional development may not appear to be hampering my life in a larger sense, but they kinda are, because through these choices I’m sending the messages that I don’t believe I deserve more.
I do deserve more – and so do you. It’s time to start acting like it.
*Here’s a portion of that poem:
You. Go, now – into the lush, emerald forest of who you really are. Find yourself. Discover your gifts. Share your gritty magic with the world. Follow the promising path of your courageous destiny. Go – Now. Do not settle for an empty half-life. Do not settle for good enough. Do not settle for anything less than exquisite or extraordinary. Oh, sweet wise, wild woman – do not settle – At all.
Source: Elephant Journal.