Settling vs. Settling Down

If you are anchored to yourself, your priorities and the people you love, no matter where life takes you, you are home, and that is an idea I feel very settling.
10/25/2012 04:02 pm ET Updated Dec 25, 2012
young man standing on a rock...
young man standing on a rock...

I was a very restless little girl. When I was in kindergarten my mom told me she walked past my classroom, expecting me to be sitting silently and perfectly, listening to the teacher, and on the contrary she witnessed her little daughter moving around anxiously, not able to sit still for one second. I was tested for ADD three times, always with the same negative results. My parents couldn't figure out where all this excess energy was coming from. I was told my entire life from kindergarten to 10th grade "I had so much potential, but I talked too much in class." In reality, I was bored. I would rather spend my time talking on the phone, meeting people and "networking" than learning algebra. I wanted to hear about everyone in the class and talk, converse, vocalize all of the thoughts going through my head, but instead I had to listen to things that were not relevant to what I was passionate about (my friends).

When I was a teacher there was a little girl in my class who was the exact same way. She would throw her hand over her mouth to make sure she didn't call out, she needed to always be heard over all of the students, and it drove me crazy! I realized this must have been what my teachers, friends and family had been dealing with my whole life. I sat with her and came up with tricks and tools for her to be able to be engaged in the classroom activities without disrupting the entire day. I realized everyone would get so frustrated with me because I was frustrated. No one knew how to handle my overstimulated mind, so I would go to school and put 20 percent of my energy into doing well and spend 80 percent of my time on people. People take up a lot of energy, which is what I loved; the more I spent on the phone, the more energy I expended.

As I got older, my energy levels never faltered. Throughout my life, I have been coined a machine, a robot, "crazy," "all over the place," and many other terms that describe my bigger-than-life mentality and personality. The first time I finally "settled down" was when I was uprooted and moved two times when I was 16. I was put in an uncomfortable situation where I couldn't put all of my energy into the people around me, because they didn't even know me, let alone want to talk to me for eight hours. I dove into schoolwork, putting my energy and effort into my relationships with my teachers and into what I was learning. I learned more in those two years of not knowing who I was than I did from the 14 years prior in my very unsettling "comfort zone."

I just recently read this awesome article about moving around without losing your roots, and it hit "home" for me. I feel restless when I am not traveling, when I am not moving, bouncing from project to project I am passionate about, dealing with all different personalities, sorting through my "craziness" to get to my place of solace. Gianpierto Petriglieri writes:

Hard as it may be to reconcile local and global homes, it is a privilege to have a chance to inhabit both. A privilege that we must extend to others. That is, ultimately, the work of global leaders -- connecting those homes within and around them.

We must embrace the struggle to make a home that feels our own. The unease that goes with it is a reminder of how important that work is, and what is at stake. Without a local home we lose our roots, without a global home we lose our reach.

For me, this means never settling. I never want to feel like I have settled for a life that is "normal." I never want to be the person who "had a lot of potential." I am best when I am moving, learning, and traveling, providing my service to the world around me, wherever that world may be. There is a difference between settling down and settling. I feel settled down when I am doing what I love for the people I love, providing my service to the world to all different people and different projects, which fit into my mold of happiness. My bigger picture filled with my desires, passions and ideas fit into a grand scheme that cannot be fulfilled with just one place, one project, or one situation.

My mom told me she recently found a "diary entry" I wrote to myself when I was 16. I said, "After moving, I realized no matter where I am or what I am doing, I can always be myself anywhere and I will be OK." I think what it comes down to is if you are anchored to yourself, your priorities and the people you love, no matter where life takes you, you are home, and that is an idea I feel very settling.

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