I remember the day I sat in a shopping center parking lot, crying my eyes out. Sobbing, really. The kind of sobbing where I couldn’t couldn’t breathe and the tears and snot ran together down my face. I saw my red, puffy eyes in the rear-view mirror and that made me cry harder and longer.
I thought I was going crazy. I was in a relationship with someone who questioned my every move, my every utterance, my choice of what I wore to work on any given day. I never knew when I was going to get the silent treatment or 20 questions.
I was scared to end the relationship. What if I left and was never loved again? What if I left and I couldn’t make it on my own? How could I hurt him like that?
I looked in the mirror again. Red, puffy, and piercingly green eyes stared back at me. And different questions drifted into consciousness: What if I stayed? How could I possibly continue living in crazy-land? I realized I was more scared of staying. The status quo freaked me the “f” out.
And then it hit me like a ton of bricks, this thought that helped propel me forward and was my mantra every time I thought about staying with that dude: When the fear of the known is greater than the fear of the unknown, that is when you will make a change.
I was more afraid of staying in that relationship than I was of being alone for the rest of my life. And that fear lit a white-hot fire under me that resulted in me moving…. moving on and moving up and moving out.
That thought has showed up in different ways over the years. When I resigned from my counselor’s job at a community mental health agency and jumped into private practice, I asked myself, “What am I more afraid of?” I was more afraid of staying in an unfulfilling, poorly compensated J.O.B. than I was of being my own boss, being responsible for my own financial and professional success.
Big change is super-crazy-scary. But staying rooted in places that no longer serve me in my journey of becoming who I want to be (at best) or that harm me (at worst) scares me more.
When your own big change shows up, what about staying the same is scarier than breaking free?
“Status quo, you know, that is Latin for, ‘the mess we’re in.'” ~Ronald Reagan