Not that long ago, I worked at a 9-5 office job that gave me more anxiety than anything else. I felt trapped but scared to leave the safety of a steady paycheck. It was when I started getting panic attacks that I knew I couldn't keep this up. This is the story of how I mustered the courage to leave my toxic environment.
“At the end of the day, if you're unhappy with your life, you need to make a change. No matter how scary it is.”
How I left my 9-5
I was sitting at my desk at the office, staring at a screen with work I didn't love, thinking to myself: "Is this it? Is this all I'll ever be? What happened to the dreams I had of making a difference, and actually being proud of what I do?" As I sat there, I began to feel my heart race accelerating, by breathes becoming quicker and shallower, I started getting a cold sweat and I knew, if I don't leave my desk right now, I'll break down in the middle of the office, and I'll never recover from that. I'll be the first who freaked out. I'll never get promoted because my bosses look for strong and confident people.
So I ran to the bathroom and cried.. and cried... and cried some more.
I looked at my red, puffy face in the mirror and thought: "That's it, I can't do this anymore... I need to leave." But before I could leave, I needed to sit with the fears that kept coming up each time I entertained the idea. What were my fears?
I went home that night and sat quietly. I sat there and breathed deeply. Then I asked myself "darling, what are you afraid of?" naturally, a long list of things began circling my mind "I'm scared of having no money, I'm scared of being broke and having to move back in with my parents, I'm scared of being weak, I don't know how to live this life, everything feels so hard, I'm not smart enough, I'm not strong enough ..." Like I said, the list was long.
But then I asked again "darling what are you afraid of?" This time, the list was a little shorter. It was a little more precise. "I'm scared of having no money, I'm scared of living this life on my own, I'm scared I'm not worthy of the life I dream of"
Ahh, now I was getting somewhere. Well, at least I identified what my fears really were. The next step was to allow them to heal.
Luckily, I have already read books, and attended workshops at this point (I'll talk about that in my next blog post), so I knew this was something I needed to face. If I didn't face these fears, they will come back to me again and again, in different forms, in different areas of my life. I needed to take some action. Because, at the end of the day, if you're unhappy with your life, you need to make a change. No matter how scary it is.
If there are areas of your life you are unhappy with and wish to change. The first step is to sit with them. Hold space for those fears. Tell them "hey fears, I know you're there. I can feel you. Why are you here? What message do you have for me? What can I do to shorten your stay here with me?"
Keep in mind, this is just one example. There are many other ways you can deal with this, but the first step, no matter what approach you choose, is to recognize the fear is there. I've always said "the first step is to admit it, the last step is to heal". Everything in between is the work I call the Journey.