I’d like to address an epidemic in our society. An epidemic of settling. People seem to settle for everything. It starts off with something small, but that sets the stage for more settling.
Have you ever been to a restaurant and ordered your meal and gotten something not exactly what you ordered? Have you ever just accepted it – settled for it – and eaten it because it was easier and less disruptive than sending it back? Probably. I mean, if you are a vegetarian and they brought you a steak, I would assume that you’d send that piece of flesh back to the kitchen, or if you are allergic to dairy and they bring you big plate of cheese fries, I assume that heaping plate of gooey goodness went straight back. But if it’s just a little off – like you didn’t want artichoke hearts in your salad but it came with artichoke hearts anyway – are you just going to pick them out (or even just eat them) because it’s less hassle than sending it back? I think chances are good that many of you – me included! – will just eat, or pick out, the artichoke hearts and move on with our meal.
Guess what just happened? We just settled for something that we didn’t really want – it was close to what we wanted, what we deserved (since we’re paying for it!), but not quite there.
Big deal, you may be saying to yourself. Pick out the damn artichoke hearts and let it go! Yes, I see your point, it’s just one salad, it’s just a few artichoke hearts. But artichoke hearts may be the gateway drug to settling for bigger things. Think about it: what else have you settled for? Have you ever REALLY wanted to do something, say, go on a scuba diving vacation to the Florida Keys? And you suggest the idea to someone (best friend, significant other, whoever your go-to travel partner is) and they’re on board and they’re excited and you start planning this fantastic scuba diving vacation. And then, somewhere during the planning, they discover that scuba diving is a little more expensive than they had expected and they actually can’t afford that, but how about you guys just go parasailing one day and chill out on the beach the other days? What do you do now? You’re already in the middle of planning this trip, you’ve picked dates, you’ve booked flights, your travel partner is excited…and, I mean, you still get to take a vacation and go to the Keys and sitting on the beach sounds really good, and parasailing looks like a lot of fun…so do you settle for this vacation? It’s a great vacation but it’s not what you wanted, what you planned on. But, settling for this vacation will make your travel partner happy and, sure, you could go scuba diving by yourself, but you wanted to share it with someone and you don’t really want to just leave your friend alone while you go do that…so, you convince yourself that this vacation is good enough and you go. And you have a good time. But you don’t go scuba diving. You don’t get out of it what you wanted to get out of it. You settled.
Over time, we’ve learned that settling is just part of life. You compromise, you make trade-offs. You sometimes settle for things that aren’t exactly what you want because, hey, life isn’t perfect! And eventually that translates into settling in your relationships. And eventually you wake up 5 or 10 years into a relationship wondering how you got there and how you ended up with this person who doesn’t actually make your heart skip a beat, who doesn’t actually meet your needs, who you aren’t actually happy with. You ended up there because you slowly started settling.
Here’s the one line bullet-point summary of this entire (extremely long) post:
- Stop Settling!
You have a checklist. It’s ok to admit that, everyone has one. It doesn’t have to be a long, specific, overly-detailed thing, but there are things, qualities, characteristics that you look for, that are important to you. Your list may include things like: must be kind, compassionate, love kids, be loyal, have a sense of humor, love to cook, want to see the world, love to read, be from a big family…whatever is important to you.
Then you meet someone. There’s a spark. You seem to hit it off. You find out that Honey is an only child. Ok, so what? That’s not a big deal. You cross “be from a big family” off your list, I mean, after all, it’s not like Honey has any control over that! Things go along and you get involved and start leaving toothbrushes and pajamas at each other’s place. You find out that Honey hates to read and never read anything except for work emails. Huh. Ok, I mean, that’s not a big deal, really. So you’ll talk to your friends about the books and articles you’ve been reading and find interesting. It’s not like you guys have to like ALL of the same things. Now you’re really involved, you’re practically living together. Things are great. You don’t go to all of your family’s gatherings because Honey gets overwhelmed by all of the siblings and cousins and general familial chaos. But that’s fine, I mean, you can see your family whenever and they do hold a lot of get-togethers, what’s the big deal if you don’t go to ALL of them for the whole day? Eventually you and Honey tie the knot. This is great! This is everything you wanted! Well, except for the things you don’t really share with Honey because Honey doesn’t really like those things…but everything ELSE is great! For your honeymoon you go…nowhere, because Honey doesn’t actually like to travel and has no interest in seeing the world.
Do you see where I’m going? I’m guessing one day you wake up and realize that Honey isn’t actually the one for you. You settled without even realizing it. I’m guessing Honey stopped giving you butterflies somewhere around the time you first took them to a family event and they didn’t like it. And you justified that because who really gets the butterfly thing after the first few dates, anyway? Right?
Does any of this sound familiar?
Guess what? You deserve better! You deserve someone who meets your needs, who gives you butterflies, who has the traits and characteristics that are important to you.
In order to find this person you have to do ONE thing: Love yourself first. When you love yourself, you know your worth and you know that you deserve all of the things you want. You love yourself enough to NOT settle for less.
Love yourself, fill your life with what you love, make the plans you want, live the life YOU want.
Your true love is out there. Your true love isn’t someone who will complete you. Your true love isn’t someone who will fill in the emptiness in your life. Your true love isn’t someone who will save you from anything. Your true love is someone who will complement you and will fit into the full life you’ve already built for yourself.
I know this is a lot of words, and a lot to take in, so I’ll wrap it up with this, your challenge: think about what you want, what you love, what you need. Start building THAT life. Start thinking about how to build YOUR life.
It might be scary, it might be overwhelming. Start with something small. Do you always go to a certain restaurant even though you don’t really like it just because it’s familiar or your friends or partner love it? Find a restaurant YOU love and go there. That’s simple. You can do that. Build on that. Find the things that you love, that bring you joy, and do them!
It may be a slow process, but it will be worth it. You deserve to love your life. When you have built the life you want, your true love, the person who will complement you and fit into your already-full life will turn up. You won’t even have to look for them. They’ll just be there.
True love. It’s out there and you deserve it. In order to find it, you have to Own Your You, love yourself, and live YOUR life.