To Knowing When to Walk Away
I started this draft about four weeks ago (with every intention of publishing it the next day). But, as things often go for writers, I ran into a bit of a wall, and minimized the tab.
I was re-inspired a couple weeks ago when I got an email from the wonderful Rachel, at The Confused Millennial, about letting go of the stuff that’s holding you back, or that you’re feeling ambivalent about. In the moment, it felt as though Rachel was only speaking to me — like she was inside my head. I then laid out some of the framework and quickly lost my steam.
So, here we are, a month later, and I’ve re-opened the tab on this frightful rainy Seattle day, with a mission and purpose. Oddly, the procrastination of things that are in desperate need of ticking off my to-do list is giving me the fuel to write. Whatever works, right?!
Do me a quick favor, and play along with my yoga-master fantasy for a minute. Take a deep breath in — like long, deep, breath. And breath out, audibly (unless you’re at a shared-workspace!) Now repeat that two more times. Do you feel any different? My guess, your shoulders probably dropped an inch-or-so, you feel more calm, even if ever-so-slightly, and perhaps even like you let go of a little bit of tension, whether mental or physical.
Learning to let go is a lesson of a lifetime. There are moments in life where we set things down and walk away because we outgrew it, because it’s better for our health and well-being, or because we need to make room for something new. It’s not always easy — in fact, it’s probably difficult most of the time, but letting go is a act of courage, growth and evolution.
The terrible twenties are real. Let. Me. Tell. You. Friendships, relationships, career trajectories, personal beliefs, self-worth and all of your plans for “what could be” are challenged immensely. It’s a difficult decade, and honestly, probably the most transformative ten years of our lifetime. Teenagers are (lucky) assholes with absolutely no clue of what’s ahead, and people above thirty are boring because they typically have it all (pretty much) sorted out. I kid, they’re actually just jaded enough to be able to handle the crisis situations a bit better (and have the ability to play it cool.) Nobody really ever knows what they’re doing, I’m convinced.
But In the past twelve months, I’ve made a series of decisions to let things go, both big and small, each with the purpose to give myself the best opportunity possible for personal and professional growth. My therapist has been a tremendous source of perspective in helping me sort and tackle these boxes, to skillfully and swiftly take control of my life, and hopefully get out of the twenty-something tailspin I’ve been caught up in.
Here’s my take on when to say buh-bye:
- When the work outweighs the value
- When things get a little too one-sided
- At the first sign of abuse
Whether friends, romantic partners, or hell, even family members, relationship stress is exhausting. Take stock on occasion, and ask yourself if any of these bullets define your relationships. Don’t be afraid to communicate your wants, needs and concerns, and negotiate (or re-negotiate) the terms of that relationship before calling it quits. Define and set your boundaries, expectations and tone. Be open, honest, and above all, listen. Remember that a relationship with anyone is a two-way street, and the cracks in the foundation that can lead to a crumble are never the cause of one party alone.
- When the passion fades (and can’t be reignited)
- When you’re feeling stagnant (and there’s no opportunity for development)
- When you’re being used (or worse, manipulated)
I don’t know about you, but without being mindful, work stress can quickly consume my world (and psyche.) Like any stress, the toxicity rapidly spreads into other areas, and makes everything just a little bit darker. But before it gets to that point, try your best to keep those dark clouds at bay. Work with your manager, or team to take on additional responsibilities (or delegate more to other staff), develop a defined career trajectory or updated job description, if possible, and pitch any new ideas that will help restore your passion and excitement before writing up your two-weeks notice.
- When it affects your daily life
- When depression and/or anxiety become your bff
- When the past is preventing progress
Unless you have some magical answer key that I don’t, you probably already know that the ghosts from our past always come back to haunt us. These decisions, words, and moments in time flutter up on occasion, making us second guess the present. Believe it or not, being aware of this baggage is vital for our progress in moving forward. But when these memories, or scars, impede on that progress, it’s time to begin the necessary (and yes, painful) work to unpack, sort, and process. We all have skeletons in our closets, and no amount of mindfulness, realizations or therapy will change that, but how we let the skellies affect our daily lives, that’s completely up to us.