I’ve been thinking a lot lately about settling, in every sense of the word. Settling into a place, a job, a relationship, a marriage. Settling for a place, a job, a relationship, a marriage.
In this edition of the Weekly Sip, I’m sharing my desire to never settle for anything less than what I deserve, and my fear of falling short.
Last week, I visited Rembrandt’s Coffee House up in the Bluff View area for breakfast and coffee before work one morning. I’d been once before for dessert, but that was more than six months ago; it was time to go back.
Rembrandt’s is a cute, European-style cafe, tucked away in the art district near the Hunter Museum. It offers a wide variety of coffee and espresso drinks, teas, breakfast foods, pastries, sandwiches and sweets. There’s really nothing at Rembrandt’s that isn’t delicious (I’ll 100% vouch for their tiramisu). Go on a sunny, brisk morning and enjoy your coffee on the patio with the birds singing.
As varied as their breakfast menu is, I opted for a cafe au lait (coffee with steamed milk) and an egg and cheese biscuit sandwich. I have simple tastes and figured that would be a sufficient breakfast. My biscuit was fluffy, buttery and light, and not at all greasy. I liked that the egg was baked rather than fried, too. Best of all, I got my biscuit and cafe au lait for just over $5.
After breakfast, I took a few minutes to walk around and watch the sun rise over the river, since I had some time to kill before heading to the office. I’ve done this before, but it’d been a while, and I just can’t say no to that sight. There’s something about a river scene that just gets me.
I’ve been listening to country music a lot lately. It’s a genre I’m very hot and cold with; I go through phases when I listen to it constantly, and other times I lean more towards my punk and alt-rock. My Yellowcard and New Found Glory will never get old, but country music has really been speaking to me for the last several months.
One song in particular has been my personal anthem lately: “Settlin’” by Sugarland, also known as Jennifer Nettles’ band before she went solo. I knew the song but hadn’t listened to it in a long time. It came up on a playlist at work one day, and I actually stopped what I was doing and listened to the lyrics.
Side note: Jennifer Nettles is a stunner.
The song is about love and romance, of course, but I think the song’s overall message can be applied to any other aspect of life. Let’s take the chorus for example:
I ain’t settlin’ for just getting by / I’ve had enough so-so for the rest of my life / Tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high / Just enough ain’t enough this time / I ain’t settlin’ for anything less than everything.
There’s a lot of truth in those words. To be honest, they’re words I didn’t take very seriously until recently. People always told me to “never settle”; I think someone even wrote that in my high school yearbook. Maybe I didn’t entirely grasp what they meant.
I’ve always tried to believe that everyone deserves the best life has to offer them: in their jobs, relationships, place in life, everything in between. To get the best, you have to work for the best. Sometimes you have to work really hard for it. Sometimes there’s some waiting involved, too. It can be difficult to wait or work that hard for something day in and day out, so consistently. But when you hit a certain progress point–whatever that may be–it feels like you’ve just accomplished the biggest item on your to-do list. For some, reaching that point is enough, and they’re happy with that.
But should that be enough?
Sometimes I think people settle for what’s easy or convenient, or what “makes sense,” or what others expect of us. Maybe they grow tired of working toward something or waiting for something to happen. I’m not excluding myself from that; I’m as guilty of “settling” as anyone else reading this may be. But it’s true; easy is easy for a reason. It isn’t called a “comfort zone” for nothing.
I’ve seen friends stay in jobs, friendships and relationships because they were easy or “made sense,” for one reason or another. They’d convinced themselves, somehow, that that relationship or job (or whatever the situation was) was good enough for them, that they didn’t deserve anything better. The negative things they had to say about those situations were far more frequent than the positives. But they were comfortable in those negatives, because they were easy.
When will you realize that you’ve had enough? And what will you do when that realization hits?
Back in college, I dated a guy on and off for quite a while. We were never exclusive, but we’d date for a few months, then he’d aggravate or hurt me and we wouldn’t talk, and then we’d start talking again and inevitably date again… and the cycle repeated itself. Our junior year, he irritated me more than his company or my time was worth, but I didn’t realize it. I’d find some way to justify going back to him.
One day, I was complaining about him to my closest guy friend, and he looked at me over our lunch and said: “Kate, you talk about how angry he makes you more than you say he makes you happy. That tells me a lot about him as a person. Do better.”
It clicked. I deserved better than someone who only gave half of the effort. When he ultimately moved on to someone else, I was hardly upset. Several years later, I found myself in a similar situation. I’d become complacent with “just enough” and made myself believe that was okay. For the first time in a long time, I put myself first and cut out a huge source of negativity. That day, I swore to myself that I’d never settle for anything again.
I’ve kept my friend’s words in the back of my mind ever since. The way you speak about a person or a job or any other event or situation says just as much, or even more, about that person, job or situation as how you feel about it.
The moral behind that anecdote extends beyond dating and relationships, just like the message in Sugarland’s song. Settling for the same old, same old, drives complacency. Don’t let yourself get comfortable with that. Set the bar high for yourself, for your relationships, for everything you want out of life. You may have to break out of your comfort zone, but what’s the harm in that? Comfort zones are meant to be broken.
Most of all, remember this: You are enough. You deserve what’s best for you.Make your own happiness your priority. Never settle for anything less than everything you’ve always dreamed about.
Jennifer Nettles even says so.
If you know someone who needs this encouragement today, share this post with them. And now tell me… have you ever settled for anything? What advice would you give to someone struggling with similar situations or emotions?