It doesn’t happen all at once. It starts with one small instance and you trust it. Because you don’t think it’ll get worse.
At first, you’ll call it compromise. It’s a sacrifice you need to make. A sacrifice you need to make. In the beginning, it’s simple. It only starts to take over your life after time. It eats away at you. You become a shell of the person you used to be. Riddled by fear and control. You’ve accepted this behavior. Just like a body of water, you become calmer and quieter.
It’s easy to settle for okay when all you’ve ever received was excruciatingly unbearable. ‘Okay’ is an upgrade, a relief, a breath of fresh air. Anything is better than before. Is it really worth all of the sacrifice?
Settling doesn’t only exist in relationships. It exists in friendships, at work, in school, within yourself. Your friends and family will notice the justifications, the constant explanations. They’ll see through it before you do.
I wish I could give you some elaborate list on how to eliminate the factors in your life that encourage you to settle. After all, I’m coming to you as a settler myself. What I can offer you are the painful lessons I’ve learned in my experience; searching for happiness in second best.
People will stop using kind words. Unfortunately, people will adjust to your actions over time- for better or worse. Your reactions will dictate the way people speak to you, or don’t speak to you.
Their actions will always be acceptable- yours will not. Your mistakes will weigh more than theirs. They’ll expect your forgiveness, your passiveness- but expecting the same from them is unthinkable.
Your ideas, hopes, dreams, stories will always come second. It’s always their turn to speak. They’ll talk over you and dismiss your feelings.
They will be just as powerful to you 100 miles away as they are at just a few feet. They will hold reign over you through just a text message. Seeing your phone light up with their name will send a gust of cold wind through your body. What did I forget? What did I say, or not say?
You will be silenced before you even speak. You’ll rethink your stories. You question the worth of your words. You’ve played these conversations out many times. You already know what they’ll say, or what they could say. You begin to avoid it altogether.
You’ll become so accustomed to the ‘sad sinking’ feeling, you’ll soon stop noticing it. Mostly because you’ll feel it all the time. It starts to blend with all of the emotions.
You will no longer place yourself at the front lines of your own plans. When you tell a story to an outsider, you always say their name first. Your own existence becomes an afterthought. You are no longer the main character.
You will no longer hear your own signals. Remember your gut feeling? The one that tells you not to go along with something. Even when you didn’t know exactly what that feeling meant- feeling anything meant something wasn’t right. Those signals will become softer. You’ll question if they’re real or if you’ve imagined them. Like they’re at a distance and if you listen closely enough, it’s gone.
Take it from me, a settler. Someone who’s fighting their way out of the silence; working so hard to re-establish trust within themselves. From the first moment you find yourself settling for even an ounce less than you deserve- run.