All my life I have heard the line “you deserve nothing but the best.” Well-intentioned as the sentiment was behind the line, as a credo this screwed me over. A friend of mine insists that the word ‘deserve’ implies an action on my part, like “he got what he deserved” implies he did something and the result was fitting. In my experience, the word ‘deserve’ separates action from result. This perception of the word could be because of how it has been used – “nothing but the best” is a very vague statement that lends itself to obscuring the gradations of good – what if I just get ‘better’ for now, or what if ‘alright’ is all I can handle?
If I earn something, it’s mine by right of having it as a goal and achieving it. Rather than “nothing but the best,” what I want to earn is a specific achievement.