Time means everything to us.
Unlike money, we don’t get it back once we spend it. The more time we invest into something–a task, place, relationship, or career–the more difficult it becomes to let it go in lieu of something better.
With that said, time can make us do crazy things. One of the most flagrant ‘things’ of all: living a life that no longer serves us.
From hoarding clothes and keepsakes to continuing with relationships just because, I was terrible with removing things or situations from my life that I didn’t need. I’ll take it a step further– I
was am a straight up self-sabotager.
Though weight gain and [downsizing due to] several relocations have helped me rid some unnecessities in the “things” department, the relationship part still needed more work.
Simply put, I just didn’t know how to keep moving. I was mistakenly flattered by people who wanted a second chance; I relished when people ‘spun the block’ for me because it meant that I was too worthy to give up.
This way of thinking got me into some very sticky situations, especially when I needed to break up with someone.
Up until my early 20s, I loathed breakups because I never liked to hurt people’s feelings. When I’d get the nerve to follow through with one, however, my effort would go in vain because I fell for the tears and very palpable pain caused by my exit (and since I caused this heartbreak, it’d be horrible if I just disappeared.)
I’d get so caught up in the flattery and my duty/loyalty to people that I’d overlook the exhaustion that comes with saving something that shouldn’t be saved. I didn’t realize that the fleeting gratification I received from compromising my boundaries came at a huge cost.
Everything should’ve been fine, but I felt off and stifled and couldn’t explain why. Truth is, I ignored the bigger picture and sacrificed long-term peace for short-term wins, and it made me miserable.
It took awhile but it finally clicked: by hanging onto whatever didn’t serve me I was only hurting myself.
With time, I’ve gotten better at discerning when I’ve overstayed my welcome and when my ‘welcome’ has been overstayed. In other words, I learned when to leave well enough alone.
I also learned that my unwillingness to leave stemmed from three things:
- a desire to please people,
- misinterpreting time spent for something more than what it is, and
- not knowing what would happen after I’m gone.
These three things all boiled down to one emotion: fear. Fear of rejection, abandonment, and/or the unknown. When it came to my relationships, gray areas seemed better than a clear-cut break up because I was afraid of making people feel rejected or abandoned (thus projecting the hell out of my own fears onto them.)
But, as the Nicki Minaj song goes:
I don’t need no lies
Pick a side, pick a side
I had to commit to one side–either “all in” or “all out”. If I’m at a crossroads with someone or something in my life then I owe it to myself to make a decision, stick to it, and remove myself from the in-between.
Once I understood that I (and others) may operate from a place of fear, it made a lot of things make sense.
When we see people who stay for too long in a job, city, or relationship we should extend them grace because 1.) we’ve likely been there before and 2.) oftentimes, it feels safer to stay where we are than to initiate change and face the result of it.
But if we resist change, then we won’t grow; learning to leave things, people, and situations that no longer serve us is key to being our best selves.
The way I see it, leaving is like ripping off a bandaid: we have to do it quickly and deal with the pain afterward. Give ourselves enough time to feel, process, and accept things, but not long enough to dwell on it.
With the new year approaching (as well as any other time when necessary), I challenge us to be fearless and “cut the cords”. Let’s leave behind whatever is holding us back–an idea, a habit, a judgement, a goal, etc.
If it doesn’t serve you, then let it go (even if it feels familiar.)
Learning to leave and sticking to it is never easy, but it is a journey–one that takes a lot of effort and courage. It’s up to us whether that journey leads to nowhere or a better place than before.
Written by: B.Sierra