Two years ago, I faced one of my biggest fears—I quit my corporate job without the security of another job.
Even though I knew quitting my job wouldn’t put us in financial jeopardy, it was one of the scariest things I’ve done in my life. Starting from scratch helped me realize and confront some of my biggest fears—one of which was that I would regret quitting my job.
Here’s what I’ve learned in the last two years:
I don’t regret quitting my job.
I was so afraid of what my resume would look like or what people would think of me if I didn’t have a regular corporate job. What I realize now is that most people don’t really care what I do for a living, and most understand and accept the concept of burnout, taking a break, and the desire to start a business. In fact, before I left my job, some co-workers expressed how brave it was of me, and that they wish they could do the same thing. Fear holds a lot of people back, even when they have the financial means to get by. Acceptance and grace from others helped me to extend grace to myself, and has taught me to be less judgmental of others who make unconventional choices.
Failure is less scary when you face it, learn from it, and realize it doesn’t define you.
My plan was to start a business, but I didn’t know anything about starting a business. And if I failed? The only person I would have to blame is myself. How embarrassing that would be! The good news is I didn’t have to wait long—failure came within the first year, and with it, an opportunity to face more fears.
What I do does not define who I am.
I didn’t realize how much I relied on my job to provide my identity. Without my job title, I faced an identity crisis. Who am I? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Surely it’s more than bringing home a paycheck. These questions didn’t have easy answers and I faced some uncontrollable anxiety the first year.
We have one body to last our lifetime, and our body affects how we perceive and experience life.
Eventually my body came to a breaking point. Losing control of my body was scary. I realized that if I didn’t change something, disease could affect me the rest of my life. This would affect my experience of life.
The experience at a one-star hotel is very different from that of a 5-star hotel. That’s why 5-star hotels can charge more—both offer a bed for the night, and you’ll likely still be alive in the morning, but it’s a different experience—one that people are willing to pay for.
It’s not just the environment outside our bodies that affects how we feel. How our body feels physically, mentally, and emotionally impacts our experience of life. The health of our body affects those feelings, and therefore shapes our experience of life.
When it comes to a healthy lifestyle, many people say they don’t care about living longer, but taking care of yourself isn’t just about living longer. It’s about quality of life. There’s a reason why 5-star hotels are in business. The experience matters.
Self-care is not selfish. In fact, not taking care of yourself is selfish.
Neglecting your health can lead to chronic disease that eventually not only affects your experience in life, but the experience of others. I realized that taking care of my body is ultimately my responsibility—not my doctor’s.
Letting go can be healing.
Thoughts matter. The thoughts you have cause neurochemical changes in your body, and can even impact your genes, which means it can impact your health, which impacts your experience in life (see above).
We have influence and control over a lot in our life—our diet, when we exercise, how we spend our money, how we relate to others, and so on. There are also things we have no control over—how our body responds to diet and exercise, how others relate to us, decisions that are not ours to make, death, and so on. For those things we cannot control, I believe surrender and faith in God can heal, as can forgiveness. When I began to focus on those things, my body and mind began to strengthen.
Gossips and bullies are covering up feelings of insecurity.
They use these tactics to create drama so the focus is on tearing someone else down, which makes them feel better. They may say things that are not consistent with your character, or twist the truth around so much, it doesn’t even look the same. Sometimes the only way you may suspect someone is gossiping about you is when their circle of influence suddenly starts treating you differently.
Gossips are some of the hardest people for me to forgive because they’re not interested in resolving issues.
A couple of things has helped me in the process of forgiving these people:
- Understand that they feel insecure, powerless, unworthy, or not courageous enough to be forthright. Almost all of us experience self-doubt or insecurity, but it seems like people tend to fall into one of two groups: those who admit feeling insecure and those who deny feeling insecure. (Side note: The ones who admit it are usually the ones others think lack confidence, but showing authenticity and vulnerability to openly admit it actually proves otherwise.) When I can connect with the feeling of insecurity, I begin to feel compassion toward them. Even a small amount of compassion can go a long way to begin the process of forgiveness.
- Trust that God sees all and judges fairly. As a Christian, I believe our works don’t count for our entry into heaven, but how we participate in this life does count toward our reward in heaven. Jesus gave two commands: Love God and love others. Sometimes that means rising above what someone else has done and not retaliating (so hard!). God sees all and will judge fairly.
Negative emotions can propel us forward if we learn to listen.
Negative emotions can signal that change is needed either in us, outside of us, or often, both. It might be a new mindset, a change in routine, or a conversation we need to have with someone. Instead of spiraling downward, these negative emotions can drive us to connection and deeper understanding with God, ourselves, and others.
I knew most of these things at a surface level, but knowing something intellectually and experiencing it can be profoundly different.
If you decide to venture into the unknown, you may meet all kinds of scary monsters—don’t let them win. You can face your demons head on—and with God’s help, defeat them. And you’ll be stronger than before.
Have you faced any difficult circumstances that tested you, but you came out stronger? Share in the comments section below!
Photo Credit: NordWood Themes, Xavier Coiffic, Mark Adriane, Luca Upper, and Jeremy Bishop on Unsplash