The Betrayal of Settling

Amy Vaughn

Adversity and Transformation Coach

How facing your Fears leads to a Fulfilled Life

I settled. I settled HARD. The American Dream: Getting married (bonus points if it is your high school sweetheart), raising a family. A dog. Good, steady jobs (bonus points for a good retirement). A house with a big yard. Two cars and annual vacations…It was in my sights, but always just out of reach. The American Dream betrayed me more than it served me.  Perhaps, I betrayed myself in some way.  Little did I know and little did I understand the world. How many of us actually understand the world as a barely-there young adult? It wasn’t just the world I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand myself. 


Even as I write this, I understand that the lack of understanding, those UN-understandings were not wasted. Those un-understandings are those things, those truths or untruths that you don’t know, because you haven’t yet experienced what is needed to gain understanding. That lack of knowing, even as it has led me down a winding road of disappointments, of ignoring what I really wanted in life, even ignoring who I really was in some respects…even so, these things can now serve me. They have and continue to act as a teacher, a guide, a mentor. A truth teller. 


What have I gained from those un-understandings? Am I wiser? Certainly. Stronger and Braver, yep and yep. More Clarity? Heck, yes. Now, I am more fully ME than ever before. For the first time in what seems like decades-maybe just THE. FIRST. TIME. EVER. I am ME. Catering to the daily Should’s, and the Ought’s and the Need To’s that once ruled my life at every turn, no longer has a death grip on my life. I have learned to settle into the quiet spaces and serene places.  And in those spaces and places, I can now hear a soft voice calling from the deepest parts. That voice whispers in a steady, rhythmic beat: “There is something more undiscovered. Your buried hopes are uncovering themselves. Those dreams you had? Yeah, they’re still here…waiting. You don’t have to settle anymore. There is something more. Just keep listening.  Leaning in. Stepping forward. You are Becoming something more. So, ready yourself for your rising…There is braving at hand.” 


In those moments of stillness, when I settled myself enough to hear, I found more and more clarity. Little bits at a time. Only what I could take in at that moment. And,  I responded to my soul’s whispers. Little by little, as my courage enabled me. Those whispers have been sweetly calling me for years, begging for my attention, yet I couldn’t hear them over the busyness of The Trying. The Trying to be good enough. The Trying to stand out. The Trying to be perfect. The Trying to please everyone. The Trying of the American Dream. In those busy, bustling moments, whenever those whispers tried to emerge, I unknowingly pushed them back down. “Don’t bother me. Stay in your place.” Interesting, “stay in your place” is an all too true message. Instead of hearing that call, I quietly submitted myself to the life I had chosen as a barely-there young adult.  


And now, I have told myself there is no more living how I’m Supposed To. No more living the way I’ve been told to or the way that was modeled for me. Now, there is a more full understanding: My life, My decisions, My way. And as I lift up this new anthem, I am still…ME. Still living with love, with kindness, with generosity at my core. And it is not to say that there weren’t (many) good things that came from living in my un-understanding. That time was not wasted. There is a gleaning that takes place, if one is willing. It’s not easy to glean, because in the process of gleaning for the gold of one’s life, you come across the hard stuff. The stuff that a brings sadness, pain, even bitterness. And the fear of coming across that hard stuff, coming face-to-face with it can be stifling. It can send us right back to The Settling.


If one can continue gleaning for gold, there is a life of audacity and authenticity awaiting. Obligation lessens it’s hold- no longer providing the shackles. For me, I no longer serve obligation-the kind that started with, “I should”, “I ought to” or “I have to”.  Obligation was a cruel master for far too long. Self judgments, too, no longer hinders me the ways they previously did. If obligation shackled one ankle, Self Judgment may have shackled the other. Before, self judgment would bring me to a screeching halt. Now, I accept my flaws and perceived weaknesses and see them as opportunities to become apart of my Becoming. And Becoming never ends-thank goodness.

We are constantly evolving people. The question is…in which direction are we evolving? Settling is not “maintaining”. Settling, at it’s core, means that we are not actively growing and if we are not actively growing, we actually take steps backwards. BUT, when we choose to step into growth, when we actively pursue learning from our mistakes, when we actively seek to better understand ourselves, others and our world, we Rise. And there is no hitting the ceiling. Our ceiling can constantly be raised. In our growing, and in no particular order, comes the most amazing things, at least from my experience: Peace. Resolve. Quiet Confidence. Present Awareness. Ahhhh, and a liberating expression of an untamed hope that is brimming with equal measures of mystery and certainty. 


 Now, I can be at peace with the Just ME. (More) Fully ME. (More) Present ME. Rising into a new understanding of myself. Braving new territories of wild excitement and daring boldness. Becoming what my heart and soul yearned for at my creation, before others molded me. Before time formed me. Before. At the Beginning.


Back then, at the beginning of my life, I was my truest self, as we all are: Full of Awe, Wide-eyed Amazement. Curiosity. A willingness to have vulnerable fun. A depth of Wonder. Perfectly imperfect. Back then, I didn’t know what I didn’t know…and I didn’t care either. I have returned, in some sense, to that beginning ME. Even as I return to that more fearless Me, fear is a shadow beside me, linked to me but lessened. Fear serves more as a friend than as something to actually fear. When I sense fear, I think I must be on to something. Fear is my signal, like a beacon, that I am on the right track. Pulling away from fear keeps me settled. And I’m not ready to settle. I hope I never do.

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