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I believe that if we’re unhappy in a relationship, job, or living situation, we should leave.
There is no point in being with someone who makes us feel miserable. There is no point working somewhere we dread going to every day. And there is no point in staying in an environment that negatively impacts our mental health.
All the same, I’ve been exposed to a considerable amount of media that doesn’t acknowledge how difficult it can be to remove ourselves from these situations. Too often, I’ve read blog posts with quotes like, “The moment you accept responsibility for everything in your life is the moment you gain the power to change everything in your life.”
It’s not that these quotes are unhelpful. It’s beneficial to acknowledge that we can change our own lives for the better. Where I can, I try to manifest my ambitions and goals—even in the minor aspects of my life. Adapting our thoughts and what steps we can do to make our dreams a reality is important. It’s manifesting 101.
However, something I have come to terms with in the past few years is the fact that change happens slowly.
The number of times I’ve decided a particular period to be a “new start”—and then got frustrated that there wasn’t any change—without acknowledging the progress I’ve already made is astounding.
Introducing new habits takes time, as well as new and valuable mindsets. There are times I’ve felt that because of this, there is something wrong with me. I get frustrated I can’t completely change a situation I’m unhappy with in the span of 24 hours—which is ridiculous.
I’ve had friends and colleagues tell me to leave a job or a relationship and I’ve felt stupid that it’s taken me time to do this. I’ve been guilty of dishing this advice out myself. Recently, I’ve tried to offer support that acknowledges how hard change is. I try to say things like, “I think if you aren’t enjoying this job, you should consider leaving. I know that this decision might take a while, but I would look out for other jobs in the meantime, or maybe try and take some time off to focus on your mental health.”
This is particularly difficult when it comes to relationships. From an outsider’s perspective, issues are obvious. But for those involved, there is a multitude of conflicting emotions. Self-esteem issues, a fear of being alone, and hopes that things will get better.
I’ve known so many people who kick themselves for not ending things sooner. I tell them it’s never their fault because romantic relationships are the most complicated of them all. Falling in love with someone is the most acceptable form of losing and forgetting ourselves. It’s sticky—as if whatever is taken away from what we have will tear the flesh off in the process.
I think the fear of breaking up is much harder than reality. So, when problems arise, no matter the severity, the hurt person can take longer to come out of a difficult relationship. There are varying degrees of these aspects ranging from two people not being compatible, to making each other unhappy, to abusive relationships. Trauma bonding, cycles of abuse, and codependency can occur. Moreover, no matter the situation, the healing from this takes time. This time is valuable to your healing.
I’m 23, and I’ve worked in a lot of different places from retail, hospitality, education, and childcare. My reasons for leaving are almost always to do with the management and working environment. It goes without saying that we can’t leave a place of work unless we have another job lined up, and even then, it may not suit our needs and the cycle starts again.
All of the jobs I’ve had have been part-time to suit my studies and to gain experience in the creative career I want. Even then, I would work hours that would make the job seem full time and burn me out. Because I’d stayed so late at the library sometimes, I’d sleep in on a shift, my diet would be horrible, and I would favour quick and cheap meals over anything else.
I get frustrated when I’m not in a financial position to quit these jobs and focus on being a full-time writer. Quitting a nine to five and doing what we really want to do isn’t as straightforward as some social media influencers may lead us to believe. We have to look for other jobs and apply for them all while gaining experience to pursue what we really want to do. This is a process, and we shouldn’t be hard on ourselves for this. Planning and evaluating other means of income are key components of achieving this.
Change can be especially hard when dealing with mental health issues. For example, depression, which many may perceive as laziness—but it’s the rock that lies on our entire body as we squirm underneath it.
I suffer from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. The constant obsession didn’t leave any room for me to do anything other than the basics. It has taken me six months to adjust to a medication that works for me. For some people, therapy might be a better option. It goes without saying that it’s completely up to the individual, and dealing with an illness that has long been stigmatised takes time. Therapy, depending on where we are, can take a long time to organise through a waiting list that never seems to end, and financially, we may not be in a position to seek it.
Please reach out if you feel you are at your breaking point.
I believe that if we’re unhappy, we have the power to change it. Not only are we more than capable, but there is always, always help. You’d be surprised how much it has helped to remind myself that change takes time.
When we are stuck in a rut—whether it’s caused by a relationship, job, or an all-encompassing illness—it takes strength to continue with every day.
Take slow steps. You can do it.