de·serve[dih-zurv]  de·served,de·serv·ing

verb (used with object)
1. to merit, be qualified for, or have a claim to (reward,assistance, punishment, etc.)
because of actions, qualities,or situation: to deserve exile; to deserve charity;
a theory that deserves consideration.

verb (used without object)
2. to be worthy of, qualified for, or have a claim to reward,punishment,
recompense, etc.: to reward him as he deserves;an idea deserving of study.

Origin: 1250–1300; Middle English deserven; Anglo-French, Old French deservir,
Latin dēservīre:  to devote oneself to the service of, equivalent to dē- + servīre

(thanks to

Deserve is one of those words that I’d ban entirely from our language. In common usage, there’s no hit of service in it, unless we are talking about the service of other’s owed to ourselves.  Marketers love the word, though.

  • You deserve a break, have chocolate mousse.
  • You’ve worked hard all day, you deserve another beer.
  • You’re special just by the very nature of being you, you deserve a new car, a new house, a new life.

In the context of relationships, you hear it in the pop psychology that we repeat to ourselves and our friends.  You deserve better, we say.  You don’t deserve to be treated like this.    Or after the other person has messed up, I don’t deserve you.  As in I haven’t earned your patience.

Oh, like I’ve never effed something up royally.

It’s a divisive word, fracturing the world into the worthy and the unworthy when, as far as I can tell, we all just are.  We give what we want to give because we want to give it.  You don’t earn love, you don’t earn forgiveness, you don’t earn patience.  And you sure as shit don’t deserve diamonds just because your parents genetics spit you out instead of someone who was almost you but not quite.

What should automatically come along with being human? What does every human have the right to?

  1. The boundaries defined by the edges of their skin.
  2. Absolute governance of the territory between their ears.
  3. A world where “first do no harm” is the first litmus test of every action.
  4. The ability to pick a course of action and pursue it so long as it more or less fits into #3.
  5. A world where one’s dignity is only ever compromised by one’s self.

Maybe more, but those are the big ones.  That is the full extent of what is your birthright as a human.  Everything else?  Take with a whopping big dose of gratitude.  When everything goes your way, be thankful and generous with it because you never know when that’s going to change.  And when it doesn’t?  Roll with the punches and for the love of all that is good in the world, don’t waste time thinking about what you deserve.

Because as soon as “deserve” becomes a regular part of your vocabulary, all you are going to see is what you lack, not what you have.  Deserve is rooted in fear.  Deserve is for the sheep.  Stop worrying about who deserves what. If you really want to hang on to the word, remind yourself that you deserve a perspective on the world that isn’t clouded by blind, stupid fear.


2 thoughts on “Deserve

  1. I was trying to get at that – that there is something in deserve that suggests compensation and money. When it comes to relationships, I’m not that kind of a girl…


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