Not This

I sat at my cold glass dining table under the glaring white lights, long into the cold of the night, writing a list of pros and cons with trembling hands. Earlier in the evening I had spent time debating with myself, praying to (more like screaming at) God, speaking with my roommate and crying endlessly. 


I was torn to pieces. 


I had thought - only a year and a half earlier - that I had found the perfect job.


Boy was I wrong.


As Elizabeth Gilbert says,

"Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly...which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place."


How many of us have ended up in this "bad place"? Face down. Exhausted. At the bottom. Feeling like you just HAVE to make a change. There is no more waiting.


Well I certainly did in 2014.


Not only did my situation end up less than ideal, it had turned toxic. 


It frankly wasn’t good for me: emotionally, physically (stress) or spiritually. 


Did I have any idea what I was going to do next? 




Did I have a Plan B? 




Did I have any idea how this decision would alter the future?




But did I know I had to leave?




It was a deep, gut wrenching sense of 




My heart, mind, body, soul - every part of me was screaming 




I had to get out. 


So I did.


By the end of that evening - before I even went to bed - I had a resignation letter drafted and ready to go for the morning. 


And I felt peace.


Yes I was terrified. I had no idea what I was going to do. And I absolutely did not want to leave my home - Cape Town, South Africa prematurely.


I was risking my entire life. The life I had spent so much time, heart and soul building. This decision could destroy it all in a moment.


Regardless of that, I knew the decision had to be made.


I had already waited too long. I had had that unmistakable sinking feeling after only a few months and had decided to hang on even as everything started slipping out of control.


I knew that even with the terrifying prospect of not knowing what was next, or how this decision would change things - that staying in my home would become increasingly difficult without a miracle - I absolutely had to listen to that gut feeling screaming, NOT THIS - because anything was better than where I found myself.


So when the moment came, I handed over my resignation letter without regret.


I knew I had done the right thing. And only relief swept over me as I walked away that day. 


Since I was at the bottom, I also knew, I could only improve.


Recently, my good friend, fellow blogger and awesome podcaster, Bryan Teare, creator of the Quarter Life Comeback, reminded me of a challenging post written by the wonderful Elizabeth Gilbert titled, Not This .


It struck a chord the first time I read it. And once again it is having the same effect all over again.


In the post she writes about the terrifying moments in life when you realize - NOT THIS.


When you find yourself on the floor emotionally or physically with the realization that something has to change. Must change. 


That you have to leave the job, end the toxic relationship, admit yourself into rehab, leave a community that is slowly poisoning you or walk away from a belief that once defined you but no longer does anymore.


That no matter what you do next, it’s NOT THIS.


In Elizabeths own words,

"If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don't know what to do, instead...you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.
You don't need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.
The bravest thing to say can be these two words.
What comes next?
I don't know. You don't know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is...? It's NOT THIS."


So are you getting the feeling that something needs to change? Are you in the middle of your personal NOT THIS moment right now? Have you ever experienced this in the past? If so, please tell me your stories if you feel comfortable below - I would love to hear about how you got to this point and made the change to get out.


Change IS A-OK


Why is change something that causes us so much distress? Why does it cause me so much distress? 

I’ve moved countless times. Switched schools. Switched social scenes. Switched countries. Switched cultures. 

And yet, I still find change hard.

Why is this?

I think it is because we are each hardwired to want to stay in our comfort zones. That we don’t want to do anything that may mess up how good we already have it. Even when we know we have no choice but to change.

I find it strange that we can find ourselves in situations, like transition, where change is unavoidable. Yet, we still find it hard to make changes about ourselves.

Consider this.

I am home in Rhode Island after moving back to the US from South Africa. I am job hunting. I am searching for a place to call my own “home”. 

Obviously there is plenty of change happening.

Yet, when I look at jobs I find myself looking at the same exact roles over and over again. Doing things that I already know don’t give me life. Yet I keep doing it.


Because I’m afraid. Because I’m afraid of the unknown. 

I’m afraid of doing something different than what my resume says I “should” be doing. Of breaking the rules. Of wanting to do things my way. Of not having a stable job with benefits when I soon turn 26. 

Fear is something very real and very scary and it blocks me from diving into new territory head first. 


When I find the courage to break through that barrier into something new I find freedom and joy and excitement. 

It turns out that fear is just that ugly brick wall we put up to keep ourselves safe and comfortable, yet right on the other side is the green pasture of opportunity and dreams.

So this is one of my resolutions for the year 2016. Break through the fear. Don’t be afraid of what other people say. Make mistakes. Shake stuff up and reorganize until I can feel with my gut and soul that I am on the right path and I plan to do just that.

So ask yourself...What fear can you address today that is holding you back?

“What would you do if you weren't afraid?”

Why is this so SCARY?

Why do I keep procrastinating?

These were the questions circulating in my head over the past few weeks and I couldn't figure out how to answer them.

Following these questions would inevitably be something along the lines of:

Well, you will be good enough to start this when ___________ . Right now you're just not good enough/smart enough/etc... at ____________ .

Well it's now almost the end of 2015 and I am finally about to hit GO on a project I started drafting back in August. Why it has taken this long is something I don't like to think about too much because it means I still struggle with being "good enough".

So what changed?

Well, first, I no longer have an excuse. I can't put it off due to other pressing needs. Due to life circumstances I currently find myself in the (nearly) perfect position to get this thing started. 

For this I feel thankful. Yet I also know I could have started this a lot sooner. And who knows where it may have been by now.

As Earl Nightingale said in this famous quote,

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.”

The time did pass and I find myself at a point where the internal pressure to get this dream started is about to POP.


So as Sheryl Sandberg famously said in the book Lean In (by the way one of the best books I've ever read and would strongly recommend),

“What would you do if you weren't afraid?” 

Well Sheryl, this is what I would do if I weren't afraid and I am about to start despite me fears.

I'm choosing to GO and I'm glad to have you here with me.