settling

Congrats to all those whose legs carried them 10, 13.1, or 26.2 miles today! You're an inspiration to us all. Had I been out pounding the pavement with you sassy cats, this would have been on repeat: 


I recently became aware of how dirty the word “settle” is in our lexicon. So much so, that I couldn’t even find a quote where it was used in a positive light. (Granted I only spent a few minutes looking.) This realization came about during a conversation with a close friend’s Mother. Upon uttering the word, she immediately took a breath to clarify her statement. It wasn’t meant to signify defeat or less than, but rather, she meant “settle down.” To stay in one place and find contentment. Funny how that second word “down” completely alters the tone and meaning. It’s somehow frees all the negative vibes contained in settle standing on its own.

Every quote I came upon during my Google search was a variation of: don’t settle for anything less than perfect. Are these people delusional?! This is LIFE. There are so many forms of perfect, but perfection will never match Webster’s definition.

Social media wants us to believe that happiness, love, and success look the same for everyone, but we would do ourselves a huge favor to remember that it doesn’t. By telling ourselves we cannot settle, we are forcing comparison and - even worse - building high expectations. Spoiler alert: not meeting those expectations is extremely disappointing.

We are taught we cannot settle from a young age. Mediocrity is frowned upon. From a child being told not to bring home C’s on a report card, the word follows us into adulthood as we are told not to find anything less than our perfect career and soul mate. In some ways, settling is almost worse than failure. At least with failure you tried. Settling meant you simply gave up.

And in this fear of settling we develop a restlessness. We feel the need to fulfill these dream lives built with (arguably) unrealistic expectations of what life will feel like day-in-and-day-out.  Good is not enough. We convince ourselves there is something better.

And there will always be something better. At some point, we just have to stop. We have to settle. Chasing after the next best thing will wear you out. It’s not if. It’s when.

So, I’m telling you right now: I am settling. Because with any luck, this life will be a long fucking haul.

I recently tried this tactic on the treadmill. I despise running. It doesn’t come naturally, and I hate the way my skin gets irritated between my inner thighs. (hey, we keep it real around here…) My new exercise regimen includes a solid chunk of running, and I needed to find a way to wrap my head around it. And fast. Or there would be 25 minutes of pure hell every morning.

So what did I do? I changed my perspective. I told myself to settle. Settle on a speed and go.

No over thinking. No comparing. Instead, acceptance. This is my strength for today. This is my run. Let’s settle in, get comfortable, and get it done.

I’m slowly trying to incorporate this thought process into other areas of my life. Of course, there is a balance here. I’m not saying sayonara to challenging myself, taking risks, or making changes. It’s a bit counter intuitive, but I’m settling to regain control.

This is not giving up. This is not failure. This is sanity.

This is me taking a breath and making a promise to myself: I will not run the rat race. I will not drive myself mad trying to sprint after the next best thing. Because falling prey to that way of life not only deprives me of the little pieces of happiness in the here and now, but also leads to the same feelings of failure and unworthiness feared by the choice of settling.

Just like the treadmill, I’m settling on a speed. I’m getting comfortable. I’m only focusing on my run.

But being comfortable doesn’t mean I’m not testing the limits. In fact, I think it’s almost given me more confidence and strength to do so. My choice to leave the race gave me a sense of security. There’s no need to measure my pace against anyone other than myself.  

It’s also given me freedom. Freedom to take the time I need to build a personal definition of what success and happiness mean for me. It’s a little unnerving knowing my definition won’t match expectations. Especially after being held to high standards and running in a crowd of over achievers for so many years. I’m slowly moving past that fear, because ownership is what brings true strength. These definitions will be mine. I will own them.  

Lastly, settling doesn’t mean ignoring my drive and ambition. Instead, it means turning down their volume. They are noisy little monsters that constantly say, “this isn’t good enough!” People say to do one thing everyday that scares you. Well, I’ve started listening to my heart. It’s got some kooky, impractical ideas, but a few gems too. The difference is, these ideas are rooted with passion, not competition. That's key. Passion is what will push you when the exhaustion and fear of failure sets in. Passion gives you the badass determination.

So I dare you to settle. I dare you to feel comfortable and at peace with where you are in this very moment. Instead of seeking the next best thing, I dare you to let it find you. It will come, and when it does you will be ready. Because you took a breath, and settled.