My little girl turns three this month, and I was planning to get her a kitten. This plan has morphed into getting a dog, and let’s be honest, it’s not really for her anymore—it’s for Mum. I’m the one who will be taking care of it anyway, right?
I joined a Nairobi dog adoption group on Facebook, and last night I saw a great dog posted there. He seemed like a lovely boy—a good age, a good size, and that all-important characteristic: good with kids. I messaged back and forth with the owner, and learned two things I wasn’t crazy about: he’s a high-energy dog who needs to run a lot, and he’s a “good security dog,” meaning he barks when people arrive. For my quiet toddler, I’d prefer a mellow dog to a rowdy one, and for my multiple-family community, I’d prefer a dog who doesn’t irritate my neighbors (and terrify their guests) by barking every time anyone arrives.
Still, Jem’s birthday is next week, and a good family dog is a good family dog, so in the end I told the owner I’d like to meet him.
This morning in the shower I was thinking about marriage. Having just ended an engagement, I’m keenly aware of something I’d never articulated about myself before: I really am someone who wants to mate for life. After my divorce and subsequent move to Kenya years ago, I enjoyed dating around Nairobi—until a year and a half with a man I adored made it clear that my heart is happiest in a committed, secure love relationship, and now I really can’t be bothered with anything else. But man, identifying someone I can stick with for life, that intimidates me right now—I was so sure my ex was my life partner, and once I stopped being sure, I ignored those signs for a long time because I wanted him to be. I wanted the stability and I wanted the love. How can I be sure, next time, whether this is a guy I can commit to for life or just my desperation for security?
Suddenly I thought of that dog. A great dog, I have no doubt—but I don’t want a high-energy dog, I don’t want a barker. In that instant, I recognized my pattern—that I want something, and then I grab the first thing that resembles it and make it be the thing I wanted. This is called SETTLING. Pushing a square peg in a round hole, as they say. I have done that my entire life, with jobs, with men, even with pets! I have such a panicked relationship to wanting, I would rather settle for something that resembles what I want than keep waiting—yet that settling only perpetuates the cycle of wanting in the end!
So I messaged the lady and told her, thank you, but this isn’t the right dog for me. That felt GOOD. Even though it’s just a dog, saying no felt like a powerful stand for myself: I am not going to be a person who settles for “close, but not close enough” any more!
Now I’m looking for the other areas in my life where I can apply this new awareness. What shortcuts am I taking in my business, what ways am I pretending that I have the results I want when actually I’m settling for less? I’ve recently been offered several opportunities that promise good money but aren’t work that I want. I’ve decided to adopt a new way of being in my professional life too, where I no longer settle for ‘good enough’ and block my own availability to do the work that is my calling.
Wanting is uncomfortable for me. But I’ve decided I’d rather make peace with wanting something and wait for it to come along, than keep pretending something less-than is good enough for me.
Yeah, I don't actually blog anymore....
I used to blog all the time, but it was really TMI, so I finally wised up and took it down. Now I just write about life-and-business stuff, and even that is inconsistent. So lately I decided to cheat and post my newsletters here too. (You can join the newsletter list on the Home page.)