Settling…the real definition

I have often thought that our words are our magic. They evoke emotion and cast spells that can both simplify and complicate our lives. Choose the wrong one or disagree on a meaning, and you could start a war, quite literally. Our English language is so diverse, having its origins from many different countries, and the numerous definitions of a single word confound non-native speakers and natives alike. Take, for example, the word “settle.”

You can settle on something. They settled on a wedding date.
You can settle into something. The family settled into their new home.
You can settle affairs or bills. He settled the bill with the waiter after dinner.
Inanimate objects can settle. Dust settled on the old window sill.
Even animate ones settle as well. The bird settled, perched on the thin branches of the old tree.

But I’m mostly interested in two definitions. To settle for and to settle down. One will make you and one will break you, and the goal is to discern which is which.

When we settle for something, we accept or agree to that which is passable, perfectly acceptable and good enough, but less than satisfying. At times this seems like the right answer, the best option, but the truth is that when we undercut our needs, we depreciate ourselves. Our value is where our deep intangible places meet the tangible choices we must make in order to fulfill ourselves. Our self-worth is the sum of our choices, so when we settle for something, the decision to accept less than what we need chips away at our self worth. But imagine if you believed in your own worth and built your life around it. Would you settle for less than what you deserved if you knew and believed in your inherent value?

To settle down, however, means to adopt a more secure way, to feel established in a new situation, and to apply oneself to this and other tasks. This definition is predicated not on settling for the mediocrity with which we are accustomed, but rather elevating the threshold of what is acceptable, and creating a distinguished life around it. When we build our lives around our essential needs, we are secure, we are established, and we feel pride and confidence in ourselves because we have applied ourselves. In kind, our worth appreciates. Only then can we say we didn’t acquiesce in life, but rather, we rose in it.

What are you worth? I don’t mean your stock portfolio. What are you worth to yourself? Settle that answer. Settle on the critical details that are necessary for your life. Settle your affairs in order to move towards your answer. Settle into who you are and then settle down and build your life around it.

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