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  • Writer's pictureMaruta Ignatoviča

If you're looking for a sign ...

Lately I've been thinking a lot about why is it so hard to leave. Anything, really - relationships, work, toxic family or maybe even friendships that have simply run their course.

We hold on for dear life, making excuses - saying we're comfortable and didn't mom teach us to be grateful for what we have and stop chasing illusions?

It doesn't stop there. Other popular excuses are "It's gonna get better soon" or "this is the best I can get" (so much to unpack there), or "I've put in too much time" and my personal favorite - "others have it worse." Because that's a great way to measure things - if others have it worse, you're not allowed to complain, so suck it up.

And it doesn't matter that your heart aches for something else - for adventure, for a job that makes you happy, friends who understand you or a lover who inspires you. We will keep longing for a different life and in real life stick with what we have, because "we're together for 10 years already" or "I've been in this job for 10 years already" and so on.

It's the terrible phenomenon of the sunk-cost fallacy - when we don't want to abandon a strategy or a course of action because we have invested heavily in it, even when it's clear abandonment would be better. It's a vicious cycle - the longer we stick with it, the harder it is to leave. We think it's too late - then we look back a year later and realise that was a good time after all, but now it's too late.. and so on.

Maybe it's our self esteem. We don't leave, because we don't think we can get anything better - whether it's a job or a relationship or anything else. (Or maybe we keep leaving a good thing and going back to a toxic thing, because we don't feel worthy of love and good things, but that is a whole different conversation I will leave for another day.)

Or maybe it's our fear of change. And I get it - change truly is scary. If you've spent most of your twenties or thirties or however-long on one course, changing it can be daunting, especially if nowadays social media can make it seem that if you don't have your shit together by 30, you're a lost cause. And life ends after 30 anyway, doesn't it? (Joking, ofc.)

But I want to touch upon another thing I see as equally important - and it's the reasons why we leave and the subquestion - what counts as a "good" reason to do so?

If you do gather the courage to change something, there will be people trying to talk you out of it, for their own reasons.

Maybe they don't want to be left behind, maybe they don't want to change with you, maybe change brings them discomfort, even if it's technically not their change.

Maybe they've tried the same, been burned and want to save you the pain. Their advice often comes from a good place, even if it's not good advice.

If it's a relationship you want to leave, you may encounter warning stories that make you reconsider. Like, remember your cousin? She left her dream man and after she realised her mistake, he didn't take her back. Do you really want to risk it?

Or who cares he's not prince charming? He is a good father, provides for the family and is occasionally funny. And do you really want to date again?

Same with quitting a job. They will ask you - "what next?" And if you answer "I got a better offer", it counts.

But what if you don't? What if you have a "worse" offer - to leave a corporate job to work at a bar? Are you nuts?

All of this can cloud our judgement, so often in times like these we resort to the good old "Universe, give me a sign." I mean, if it's meant to be, the Universe will respond, right?

But if we dive deeper, a "sign" is a delicate way to say "reason". We look for additional reasons, because our gut feeling is often discarded as a reason not good enough. It's easier to move away from ourselves and say we are doing the thing because we recieved a sign. It's also easier to avoid responsibility, even just in our minds.

But the fact that you're asking for a sign is a sign in itself.

And we need to stop thinking we can only do things if we have a good enough reason. We can do things whenever - just because we want to. For no reason. Altough, to be honest, "for no reason" really means "for no socially acceptable reason", because honestly, "I want to" is a good reason in itself.

You can have a great life. On paper. But if you have a quiet voice inside of you - the one that appears only when the rest of the world is asleep - then it's good enough. Maybe not good enough to do the thing, but at least have an honest conversation with yourself about how you really feel and what are you so afraid of.

Because the truth is simple.

If you're looking for a sign, that's the sign.

Change is never easy, but it's always for the best. At least a year from now you can look back and be happy you did it. That's way better than looking back and realising you have not moved an inch towards your dream life. Now that would be silly, wouldn't it?


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