This is the premise many of us were raised with, so whenever we decide we have had enough (take-this-situation-and-shove-it) rather than acting on it, we often sit in a limbo. A limbo of depression and anxiety; a limbo of inertia. Because we believe we should be able to “fix” what ails us, we should be able to find the silver lining, look on the sunny side of things. So wonderfully American of us, really! In this limbo we struggle with our “failure” to fix or find or look in a way that can fool ourselves for any meaningful amount of time. And the situation drags on. We also have a great driving belief in Deus Ex Machina—the hand of God, the fortunate coincidence that rescues us from our misery. If this intervention does not happen, then we think it is a sign that we are meant to maintain the status quo. Trudging like good little soldiers through our own personal war zones, ever mindful of mines and the possibility of bombs dropping from the sky. We live our lives in the trenches, waiting for the end of the war that is raging inside of us. Do I want to be “good” and dutiful and steadfast, or do I want to be happy?Obviously it all depends on what happiness means to us as individuals. I definitely know people who are “happy” in their martyrdoms—they have a sense of righteousness and superiority. I know people who absolutely LOVE to complain—in fact, some days I suspect I may be one of them. It is a part of the human condition to brag a bit about our misery; believe me, I am on Facebook, so I should know. But if you have a job, a home environment and some relationships that generally speaking bring you satisfaction, then generally speaking you are happy. All petty complaints aside, you have a good life. But if even one of these is seriously askew, then you are living in place of unnecessary suffering. I hear people say that a divorce “ruined” their life and I wonder, would spending the rest of your life in an unhealthy, unhappy marriage have been preferable? It might be good to challenge some of the beliefs we have about success, too. If you make enough money to support you in a lavish lifestyle, but the stress or politics of that job are shredding your soul, is that an admirable life? What is happiness?
I am asking these questions because this is all a part of my very own newly minted “mid-life crisis”. I have never been a “quitter”. I remained a Girl Scout until I graduated to the “Cadettes”, and then, even though I was new to the town, I was elected President of my troop! Whenever I tell people this, the most common response I get BY FAR is “Wait…there are Cadettes?” Ask any of my friends, I am one of the most IMPOSSIBLE to shake people who ever lived. Kind of like Bob, in “What About Bob?”, I keep showing up until you just surrender and include me (or try to kill me). Not to brag, but I also have some first rate head-banging-against-the-wall skills. I can be quite touchingly optimistic about the efficacy of such behavior. No, THIS TIME when I bang my head against the wall, it will REALLY get his/her attention! Who was it that said the definition of insanity is repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results? Color me insane, because I’m guilty as charged.However, I have recently come to realize that all of my stick-to-it-ness and head banging is actually making me quite miserable. I feel like a hamster in a wheel, or the Griswolds in “European Vacation” when they keep driving by Big Ben…at first things seemed okay, but now I realize I MAY BE IN HELL. And this is what is making me consider that the old head-banging joke may be true: it will feel really good when I stop. I look at the people in my life who have “quit” things—jobs, marriages, social obligations, self-destructive behaviors, limiting belief systems—and I don’t see “quitters”. I see incredibly brave people who took a stand for themselves, their health, their well-being and their futures, often in the face of judgment, often with the consequence of losing a support system, always with the chaos that major life changes bring. These people are not “quitters”. These people are heroes. Change is the biggest, scariest part of life and they took it on, head first. Maybe it's time to realize change is inevitable. Maybe it’s time to realize quitting can be a triumph of growth and forward movement. Maybe “quitters” are after all the bravest souls we have.