In the past 18 months, I’ve left my boyfriend of 8 years, my full-time job, and my old way of life. Now I’m getting ready to leave my home town, Zagreb, and attempt a new life in Germany. So I think it’s safe to say that I’ve gone through some momentous changes and a whole series of endings and beginnings this past year.
People tend to view change as either good or bad. In truth, it’s neither, but that’s how we humans operate: we ascribe positive or negative value to each event in our lives and that’s how we judge everyone and everything. The reality is, however, neither black nor white but grey (50 shades of it, as we all know by now), and the only thing that can be said with certainty about change is that it’s rarely easy. Probably because it falls within this grey area, as everything else in life does.
I cast a positive light on all the changes I’ve made because they have made me happier and given me a sense of fulfilment I haven’t really known before. Maybe because they were changes that didn’t take place by some external decree but were well within my control and were the product of some very difficult decisions I’ve had to make. So perhaps it would be correct to say that change itself isn’t as difficult as making the decisions that lead to it.
I finally found the strength to leave my boyfriend after my cup had been brimming over for months. We had been standing in the same spot for years, trapped in a quagmire of mutual discontent and manipulation, hoping for a change that was never going to come. I was weary, sad and afraid of what the rest of my life was going to look like. So I said enough, and severed the connection. It was one of the toughest decisions I’ve ever had to make.
Next was my well-paying, “safe” job as a teacher, which had been slowly sucking the marrow out of my life. 60-hour weeks, pressure, stress, little to no social life, no time for myself, and eventually mobbing, got to be a little too much after 3 years. After I left, I wondered how I’d been putting up with it for so long, what on earth I’d been punishing myself for so severely, and what point I was trying to make to myself. That I could persist in a soul-sucking job because quitting is for losers? I’ll ask my ovaries, which had stopped working a year into the job.
Leaving takes courage. You alone can make decisions to change something, and that can be truly frightening, because you can never see in advance the full repercussions of your choice, but that’s the whole point of life – taking the plunge without overthinking it, and somehow finding it in yourself to trust that the universe will not cast you out for it. It’s also made easier if you have any kind of support, such as your family or your significant other (in my case, it was both), but sometimes you have to do it all by your lonesome, and those are the defining moments of your life.
In my experience, tough decisions get rewarded. When you close a door on something, a new window pops up somewhere else, usually where you weren’t looking for it. In my case, the decision to leave my long-time boyfriend made room for another man to come into my life, the kind I’d given up hope of finding a long time ago. He also happens to be the reason behind my pending move. Change begets change.
The decision to leave my job afforded me the opportunity to stop, for the first time in my life, and take some time to figure out my next move and what I wanted to do with my life. Or didn’t want to do, as it were. It led me to taking the CELTA course and qualification in Budapest, which proved to be a life-enriching experience, one which restored my confidence in my professional self and raised my self-awareness to a new level.
And now I’m leaving Zagreb. Is it difficult to leave? I’ll be honest: it’s not as easy as picking up a few belongings and just hitting the road, but it’s not all that difficult, either. I worry about my parents’ failing health (I’m an only child) and the ability to preserve the good friendships I’ve built here, but these days it’s easy to stay in touch with friends and family on a daily basis, and it’s not like I’m going to the other end of the world. Also, I’m very excited about embarking on a new stage in my life and I don’t worry much about the future because I have no way of knowing what’s waiting for me around the corner, and I like it that way. I stand to lose next to nothing with this experiment, but the gain could be immeasurable.
I leave you with this song by Peter Gabriel, Solsbury Hill, which has become one of my favorites only this past year, probably because I was never able to fully grasp its meaning before. If you ever found yourself standing at the crossroads and having to make a decision, you will get it. He wrote it at the time he reached the life-altering decision to leave his successful band Genesis and embark on a solo career. The music does a fantastic job of conveying the awe and the sense of liberation springing from the decision to cut yourself loose from the false sense of security your everyday life gives you, and just grab life by the balls. Enjoy.