When you’re really, truly free – when you don’t have to question decisions you made because they don’t feel authentic deep down in your soul, when you just live life based on instinct and what feels right in the moment as opposed to what your parents think you should do, or what makes the most sense on paper – you don’t accept jobs with an afternoon’s notice that you know you’re wrong for.
But I am not really, truly free.
In fact, I am shackled by fear and guilt and anxiety about making a mistake that will irreparably damage my future and the upwards trajectory I’ve always planned. I also always choose the responsible choice rather than the personally gratifying one. I choose safety over liberation; I value control over vulnerability. So when I was offered a job at a nationally syndicated television program after being unemployed for three months, I accepted it, without knowing my salary or hours or anything, really.
“This is a very bad decision,” Intuition scoffed at me. “You will not be happy there and it will only waste your time and energy,” she said, citing the following reasons:
- There was a very evident lack of professionalism and disorganization in the workplace, starting with the day I was interviewed.
- I not only lack interest in the subject matter of the show, but I actually am disdainful of it.
- In three months, I have a guaranteed full time job that I’ve done before and have enjoyed and found fulfilling.
- I am not only financially stable, but I also want to travel; right now I have both the means and the time to do so, and when does that ever happen?
“Oh, shut up,” I replied anyway, before I put on my nice clothes and head out the door.
Of course, Intuition was right – love her or hate her, the bitch has quite the knack for truth telling. Regardless, despite knowing after my first day that this was not a gig that would last, I went in for a second day. But after about four hours, mindlessly sitting at my desk, watching the office in both awe and disbelief, a few insights flashed in my mind like bright lights. The first being: LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO DO SHIT YOU DON’T WANT TO DO.
Being in my late twenties, I’ve heard with increasing regularity about young people dying suddenly, or becoming paralyzed from car accidents, or having mental breakdowns on the job, or suffering losses in their emotional lives from which they never recover. If, God forbid, today is my last day on earth, would I have enjoyed how I spent my day? Or would I have regretted choosing safety over authenticity?
Also: YOU DON’T NEED PERMISSION TO LIVE LIFE ON MY TERMS. Despite having moved out of my parents’ house when I was 18, my very well intentioned but overbearing mother still believes that she alone knows what is best for me. After my first day, she pleaded with me to give the job another shot, and I grew furious, ultimately screaming at and hanging up on her. If she had just said, “this sounds like an unhealthy work environment, don’t bother going in tomorrow, you’re worth more than that,” I would’ve emailed my boss and said, “thanks but no thanks.” But she didn’t so I didn’t. I realize now that I don’t need her permission to live the life I want – I can do whatever the hell I want, whenever the hell I want to do it. Freedom doesn’t have to be granted to you – you can choose it for yourself, right now.
Lastly: STOP LIVING YOUR LIFE IN FEAR. Once I decided to leave at lunch, my mind started whirling with several questions that could all be boiled down to: what if this comes back to haunt me? What if my guaranteed job in July falls through? What if this is my one chance to move up in my career? What if karma/God/the Universe spites me in the future because I didn’t honor this blessing? What if it’s all downhill from here?
As I sat pondering these questions, my mind racing and my palms sweaty, it dawned on me that all of these questions were coming from the hollow and illusory place of fear. What if I asked myself questions from a place of faith instead – what if I make this leap and end up flying? What if I score a massive breakthrough in my life in the next three months that I wouldn’t have been able to achieve if I was wasting my time in a cubicle? What if I choose to feel safe, protected, at peace?
Perhaps I made a mistake – certainly, my exit was far from graceful or measured – but it was on my terms and I am prepared to live with the consequences. Ultimately, I’ve realized there’s a big fucking world out there and there is no right way to live in it, experience it, explore it, love it. All you can really do is trust your instincts, be fearless and believe that everything is going to be okay.