I have a problem with the word “deserve”. No, it hasn’t done anything to deserve my dislike. (see what I did there?) But there is a layer of entitlement that shrouds it. At least in my eyes.
For example, when a coworker recently told me that I deserved my upcoming five day getaway in the mountains, it gave me pause. Sure, you can say I deserve it. (I do.) But I’d much rather say I’ve earned it. (I have.) Do you see the difference? They are so very close… and yet, not.
It hits me even harder when talking about relationships. “You deserve a good man!” one girlfriend will say to another. And sure. I see what she’s saying. But that slight bent towards entitlement once again strikes the wrong chord with me.
And there’s also the hint of exclusion. If you don’t see it, just turn the phrase around. How many times have you overheard in conversation, “He doesn’t deserve her.” and visa versa. Who are we to say? Who are we to cast judgement? Do we know what goes on in the depths of others’ hearts or what happens behind closed doors? No.
A few days ago when a close friend was talking to me about her dating woes she expounded on what she wants in a relationship and closed with, “and you know what? I deserve it.” My face can reveal what I’m thinking when my guard is down and it must have been because she immediately said, “What? You don’t agree?”
I shook my head. “No honey,” I explained, “It’s not that I don’t agree. I just don’t like your word choice. And it’s my own personal hang up. I absolutely think you should be happy. And I’m so glad you’ve got a clear idea of what you want. I just don’t like the word deserve.”
She cocked her head cocker spaniel style waiting for me to explain.
“I just think there are better words. Ones that have more meaning… more power to them,” I floundered. It wasn’t as simple as I expected to show why I cringed.
“Look at it this way,” I said, “Do I have your trust as your close friend because I deserve it? Or because I earned it?”
Understanding began to wash over her face.
“And don’t for a second think that I don’t believe you should get exactly what your heart desires,” I continued, “You have one of the kindest hearts I know. And that is priceless. Don’t ever doubt your worth.”
So when you sweet readers comment and tell me you think I deserve X and Y and Z, you may have noticed I dance around what you’ve said, thanking you, but not agreeing. There is a glitch in my brain that keeps me from being able to say, “I deserve X and Y and Z.” However, that does not mean that I don’t believe I’m worth it.