Coping with Change
A former co-worker of mine once gave each of the employees a book called “Who Moved My Cheese?” It was no longer than one hundred pages, and boasted all sorts of awards it had won on the cover, the back, and the index. Despite having the book for a few weeks, I hadn’t read it until one day I found myself on the brink of death (boredom).
As I turned each page, I found myself totally able to relate to the two main characters; two mice named Hem and Haw. The book was a narrative of the experience the mice had in making sure they were fed and able to have enough cheese to last them during the hard times. Essentially, it was a metaphor for humans having to ensure we are employed, happy, tending to our goals, and so on and so forth.
One mouse fought tirelessly, even when they stumbled upon a chamber with what seemed to be endless cheese, to make sure they had even more, as the cheese in the chamber would eventually run out. The other mouse, however, didn’t think long term. Instead, he focused on relaxing and enjoying the abundance of cheese that was there for him, thinking it would renew itself.
But one day, the cheese ran out.
The moral of the story was that we always have to prepare to have nothing at all, even if we have it all in that moment. The story set out to illustrate the importance of being able to adapt to changing circumstances; a lesson I found myself learning, especially in recent months.
How do we deal with change?
A few weeks ago, I reached my wits end with my employer. I felt myself unable to enjoy my work experience, despite being surrounded by a great group of co-workers. I had felt this way for a while, but tortured myself with the idea that “I needed the money”. While this was true, one day I noticed myself preferring to be poor instead of working for this employer anymore. When I recognized that thought, I knew it was time to go.
I wrote my resignation letter in absolute confidence despite having no back-up plan, just a list of places I had in mind that I could flee to in refuge. Immediately after quitting, I reached out to someone that had recognized my personable skills at the place I had just left, and she set me up for an interview. Within one week of quitting, I had passed all the background checks, credit reports, and lengthy interview process, and was hired. I started the week after, and began settling into my new work environment. Interestingly enough, I was doing less work here and making twice the money.
We deal with change by knowing when to walk away.
And the truth is; we walk away when we’re ready. There is no such thing as “overstaying”. Whether it is a relationship you think is becoming toxic, or a job you think you need to leave, you stay as long as you can and as long as you have to, before you either find a way out or reach your wits end, like I did.
The most important thing about leaving at the precise moment you decide to, is how things will work out for you when you are true to yourself. If you’re still there, it’s because you can still handle it. It’s kind of like a kettle, your body, mind, and spirit, might be whistling to you, and perhaps even growing louder progressively. But until it gets to that final, high-pitched whistle you can’t help but hear, you’ve still got work to do.
Keep in mind that things always work out. I’ve said this time and time again in my blog posts, because it is one of the governing philosophies of life, if you really and truly believe in it, and especially if you really and truly work hard.
I know that even in starting this new job, maybe after a couple months, a couple years, I might find it unbearable. That’s just my sign that it is time for change. When I can no longer look myself in the mirror, or fall asleep at night, I will know it’s time to leave. Until then, I have work to do.
We tend to set expectations. We often assign time limits to things; everything from how long it will take us to get Downtown to marriage. When really, we change, grow, and evolve with each passing moment. What was right for us when we started might not be right for us when we get to the halfway mark. But we’re so focused on getting to the finish line that we end up at the wrong one.
This also happened in my university career. I spent roughly $13,000 acquiring the degree I thought I wanted in history. But after my second year, I felt unfulfilled, dissatisfied, and the inescapable feeling of sheer unhappiness. It was when I couldn’t sleep at night knowing I would be unhappy with my career choice for the rest of my life that I decided to switch into journalism. Now, the only thing more exciting than being able to fall asleep is waking up in the morning.
If you don’t know yourself well enough to catch yourself in moments like these, furthermore, if you don’t respect yourself well enough to take whatever loss you may have acquired at the time (for me it was the $13,000 and the two years I spent in school already), how will you ever get what you really and truly want out of this life?
Check in with yourself. See where your head is at. More importantly, see where your heart is at. If they’re not in the same place, you’ve got to change something. It could be finding a new partner, it could mean finding yourself. Pay attention to your needs. Recognize that they may change from day to day, year to year, or decade to decade.
Most importantly, stay hungry. If you have a healthy hunger for happiness, paired with the ability to recognize the road you have to take to get there; you’ll find your cheese.