Everything looks easy from the outside. We can look at someone in an awful job and wonder, ‘Why don’t they quit?’ or an abusive relationship and ask, ‘Why don’t they leave?’ The negative aspects are clear to us and they seem to be enough that it is logical that they should make a change. What we miss is that even when the negatives outweigh the positives there is a fit that has happened which is very hard to release. We are like cookie dough pressed into a mold. There is a lot that holds us in, even if it hurts us. Stepping out of the mold, is stepping into a void. At least in the mold I know how I fit and I am familiar with my surroundings. If I step out, there are no parameters. How will I know my shape and my place? What if I fall flat? What if all that waits for me outside this mold is a new one that’s worse?
And we stay in our place.
Many movies have scenes where someone has to take a step of faith onto an invisible platform that they are told is there. I am sure it’s in one of the Indiana Jones movies but I know I have seen it more than just there. It’s the best description of people who make big changes. There are no guarantees in life at all but if you don’t change you get familiar with the routine and it’s likely to remain the same. When you step onto the platform and out of the mold you have to admit that there are no guarantees. That is usually too much for most people.
An interesting thing happened to me. I was in the town where I grew up. Lots of good and bad things happened there. I haven’t been there for years and I have now spent more of my life not living there, than living there, but when I needed to get somewhere I could just get in my car and drive there. I could not articulate how to get there at all but I knew by instinct all the right turns. So going back is ingrained into the DNA of our being. If we knew it once we can easily know it again. This makes not only stepping out hard but staying out hard too.
Some people step out and fall flat so others use that as evidence to never step out. This reminds me of Brene Brown quoting Theodore Rosevelt about getting into the ring (if you don’t know the quote please google it because it’s amazing). I have never been someone on the sidelines. It’s just not who I am, but that doesn’t mean these steps are not scary or easy. I have fallen flat but I get back up and keep trying.
If we refuse to give up we will find a new place where we fit. It takes time and effort. It’s trial and error but you will get there. It’s uncomfortable until it’s comfortable, and it is quite possible to be better. You will never know until you take the step.