Staying at a job you hate. Day after day, sometimes even lasting into night after night. Waking up every morning with a pit in your stomach, and going to bed every Sunday evening with a brick full of dread. Sitting in front of your computer and envisioning how much better your life would be if you worked somewhere else, but doing nothing to help yourself get there. Convincing yourself that it’s necessary to stay in order to pay the bills, to show up to work every day feeling exhausted before it’s even begun – thereby allowing yourself to confuse ‘misery’ with ‘responsibility.’
Or, even worse than all of that: staying at a job that doesn’t make you feel anything at all. Coming in at nine and leaving by six, barely even remembering anything that happened in between. Staring at a screen for hours on end, thinking nothing, feeling nothing, looking at nothing. Telling yourself it’s only temporary – just for a little while – and then sitting down at your desk one day realizing that three years of your life have gone by. Allowing yourself to believe that work is just work, and that trying to find something at least somewhat fulfilling for you is impractical and impossible.
Convincing yourself that doing what you love is supposed to be easy all the time. That when things get hard or exhausting or difficult, it must mean that this thing was not meant for you, that you were not meant for this thing. Waiting and waiting for the supposed realization that will dawn on you about what you’re supposed to do with your life – that one day in the future, you’ll discover something that’s effortless and painless and is something you’ll be able to do without putting any work into it. Believing that this is the way all successful people have found their calling. Looking at blood, sweat, and tears as a sign to quit, instead of a sign to keep going.
Being with someone who makes you feel small. Someone who makes you feel sad or tired. Someone who makes you feel anxious or less than or not good enough. Someone who stands opposite you, like an opponent, rather than someone standing right next to you – ready to hold you up when things get bad. Looking at one instance of disrespect or cruelty or dishonesty as trivial, but failing to see that when these instances repeat themselves one after another, that is your whole relationship. Staying with that person because you’re scared, or because you’ve already been with them for so long, or because it’s too late to back out now. Letting yourself settle for someone because you think that once you reach a certain age, you’re just stuck for good, that you’re not allowed to listen to your gut and just leave.
Believing that true love will be easy, simple, endlessly passionate – always. Freaking out when things get hard, taking it as a sign that this could never work, instead of working through it and recognizing that a strong and genuine relationship is capable of adversity. Comparing your relationship to everyone else’s, especially through the small device in your hand, and letting that become your entire reference point for how you feel about this other person.
Forgetting to take care of yourself. Eating poorly. Drinking (too much). Not getting enough sleep. Not reaching out to loved ones when you need help. Forgetting to take time for yourself. Turning to an alternate distraction (food, alcohol, sex, shopping, gambling, video games, whatever) when there’s an emptiness inside you that you think you don’t have time to fix right now. Letting yourself live a mediocre existence because you think it’s the best you deserve.
Letting other people dictate every aspect of your life. How you feel, how you think. What you want. Who you want to love. What you want to do. How much money you need to make in order to be acceptable. How you spend that money. What you believe. What you don’t believe.
And, most of all, ignoring yourself. Ignoring the voice within you that truly knows what you want and what you need. Peace, simplicity, love, generosity, truth. Telling yourself that you’ll “get to it.” That one day you’ll look away from the screens and the deadlines and the everything to allow yourself to simply be. You’ll do it, you’ll “get to it.” Just not today. Or tomorrow. Or next year. Or ever.