“So many people live within unhappy circumstances and yet will not take the initiative to change their situation because they are conditioned to a life of security, conformity, and conservatism, all of which may appear to give one peace of mind, but in reality nothing is more dangerous to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
― Jon Krakauer, Into the Wild
I recently took the plunge and quit my day job. I didn’t just leave a job, I broke up with a company. A company to whom I’d given all of my twenties and half of my thirties.
What was going on?
I have to question whether I was just insanely committed or if I was afraid. I know I was afraid. Like clockwork I’d threaten to quit almost every January, but like most new years resolutions, I didn’t see it through. I’d end up crying in the arms of someone from HR (figuratively speaking of course) and we’d agree to give it one more go. I’ve had experience with codependent relationships, I should have seen the signs. My friends encouraged me to leave, but I made the usual excuses. Maybe it was me? Would another company even want me? Could I live without a job? I doubted myself and my abilities. In retrospect it is all rather toxic. I was clamoring for approval and my identity was so entwined with this job/company.
Eventually I had to admit that my priorities had shifted over the fifteen years; my family and my health had to be more important. I had no idea how “other people” could balance family life, socialising and regular exercise, all while working nine hours a day. Apparently they just sleep less than I do. As ridiculous as it sounds, my partner gave me permission to leave. Financially we would be ok, not amazing, but ok. I wept heart broken tears on the day that I handed in my resignation, then spent my notice period bending over backwards to make sure that the handover was perfect. I still don’t know if these are the actions of a “healthy” person or if it was just me being me.
Change is uncomfortable
Change isn’t easy or comfortable, and I wish I could tell you that I’m extremely happy now, but I’m not. Life is a challenge. Plants grow strong with pruning, rain and compost (read that as “shit”). I can’t think of any change that I’ve ever made in my life that didn’t involve letting go, tears and a whole lot of negative thoughts. That said, I always flourish when I take the steps to change something about my life.
I got sober almost 6 years ago. It was extremely painful to admit that I had been leaning very heavily on alcohol. That too felt like a break-up. For a long time I attached a feeling of security to a glass of wine; I could trust it to help me to unwind after a long day at work. Drinking became part of my image. Wine tastings and lazy dinner parties were my hobbies. I wish I could just say that it was my social life that orbited around drinking, but I felt no shame in drinking alone at home.
I had to find myself again after becoming sober, I felt a loss of identity. My attempts to be “normal” felt like , because “normal” people can handle their alcohol. Comparison did not serve me then and won’t serve me today. I lost a few friendship, while others evolved to more caffeine based socialising. I made friends with like-minded people. The friendships that have grown and stood the test of time are beautiful, deep and honest. I wouldn’t trade that for the world. The relationship that I have with myself and with my higher power are sincere. I have hope and a purpose now.
So, you still want to know how to stay miserable? Easy, don’t change, don’t take risks, stay where you are. Life can only get better if you do ask “HOW?” – be Honest with yourself, be Open-minded about new opportunities and Willing to make a change.
Photo credit: Samantha Gades via Unsplash