The past few weeks have been a whirlwind for me personally. After 14 years, I was feeling dissatisfied in my job, and knew it was time to move on. I’d been keeping my eyes open for new opportunities for a while – I wasn’t willing to give up a career doing meaningful work with people I loved unless I was moving to something that really excited me.
But then the day came. I had found what I was searching for, and I was really leaving. As much as I was getting exactly what I wanted, I found myself with unexpected emotions. Was I making a mistake? Was I walking away from something that I should instead have been holding on to?
Going through this experience reminded me again that even when change is good and something that you want, it’s never easy. The things we have done in the past are always need fulfilling in some way – otherwise we wouldn’t have done them. So even though a change is something that we believe is going to be great, there is still a risk involved. Do you give up something that isn’t perfect, but that you know will meet at least some of your needs for something that has no guarantees, but has hope of being better?
I think of how often in life we see people making decisions that we see are destructive, or at the very least, ineffective. It’s so easy to judge, and get frustrated with them. Why don’t they stop? It’s so obvious that another path would be better.
But that abused woman stays with her partner because most of the time things are good, and she’s not sure she can make it on her own.
That teenager who has been demanding to be treated as an adult and wanting more independence panics and gets homesick when he moves away to college.
That child who is a bully feels guilty about the mean things she has done to others, but worries that she will be mocked and teased if she gives up her “tough” persona.
In the midst of new opportunities, there is always loss as well. Instead of judging others, it’s more helpful to understand that it’s not so simple to take that leap. If I’ve learned anything over the past month, it’s that change takes courage.