Settling in – a linguistic reframing

A wise friend reminds me that settled-in can be a noun or re-framed into a verb, settling in — to adjust to a new space or place, making familiar a new routine, or aligning with changed circumstances.

Ashesi guest house, outside Berekuso

I am in the verb state of settling into a guest house in a rural township outside of Accra Ghana, a new school with students who greet me warmly but many of whose names I cannot pronounce, and foods that are exploratory rather than familiar.

This state of settling feels different from feeling “settled-in,” the noun state of familiarity and being on auto-pilot (at least for many daily activities). Only 6 months ago, I felt rather settled-in to a home I have lived in for 9 years in a veritable suburb of the capital of Texas in the American south.

What’s different? Everything from customs, accents and greetings to shopping, infrastructure, road composite and water sourcing. Yet as I notice that I am in the act of coming to know that which is currently different, and becoming familiar with what once was completely new activities, spaces and people, I find a sense of serenity and delight in all the many aspects of life that could hardly be classified yet as “settled-in.”

I feel a particular kinship with my “kid-friends” these days because they too are settling into new school years, a process that can take longer than simply putting one’s book into the desk.  Two friends began kindergarten; one no longer has his big brothers at the elementary school with him; one moved by choice and two from necessity to public schools from private schools; one joined friends he really likes, while one doesn’t like the teacher he got; one began editorship at her school newspaper; and two begin college application processes soon.

Many people I know are in the verb state of settling in to new circumstances. I look forward to feeling more of the noun state, to feel settled in and familiar again; and yet re-framing helps me also appreciate the season of the verb state, adjusting and settling and learning new.

There is enormous creative potential in choosing active verbs.

2 responses to “Settling in – a linguistic reframing

  1. What I find fascinating about life in general is that just when you feel settled in, something comes up that forces us back into the verb state of settling in, which is sometimes UNsettling 🙂

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