The other day, the always amazing Elizabeth Gilbert, posted a photo on Facebook with the words “Not this” on it. But, it was her caption that struck a cord within me. Essentially, she wrote about how brave it is for people to leave a situation that is no longer serving them and listen to their gut. Not everyone is able to do it, but the people who can are a special bunch.
While I won’t rewrite her entire caption here, I will share my favorite part of what she had to say.
“Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.
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.”
I love how perfectly she summed up that “Not it” feeling. Many of us have been there, and it’s hard to put into words. But, it’s exactly how I felt about leaving my job. I was terrified, so I ignored the voices for a while, but then I was worried about being stuck forever.
What made it hard was that teaching was something I loved, especially when I started, but deep down, I always knew it wasn’t something I was going to do forever. I even remember a moment in college, when as an education major, I switched from a social studies concentration to an English one. I remember that moment so clearly, standing outside of my dorm on the phone the my mom, as I told her, “Maybe one day I’ll wind up working for a magazine or writing a book.” It was my passion and my dream; even then, I knew deep down teaching wasn’t my forever career.
But, I have always loved kids and teaching was another dream of mine. From age thirteen until college graduation, I had spent my summers working at camps, daycare, and babysitting. Teaching just made sense, and I absolutely loved it.
When teaching began to change throughout the eight years I was in it, and the push towards state testing was emphasized, I slowly felt something deep inside telling me it was time. Time to take that leap. The career I loved was turning and changing, and I didn’t love what it was becoming. I kept pushing forward hoping that would change and ignoring that “not this” feeling deep inside.
I loved my school, my co-workers, and my students, but something wasn’t right. My heart didn’t feel completely in it anymore. On the side, I was working on writing, both my blog and a book, plus traveling, and every day my heart told me that was my path. I was terrified to leave my job, especially without a solid plan b. But, after some time in the woods, five days on the Appalachian Trail to be specific, and some serious time listening to what I really wanted, what my heart wanted, I took that leap. That horrifying leap. But, as scary as it was, and as much anxiety as I had before, during, and after the change, it was worth it, even if things aren’t perfectly worked out yet.
There will never be a right time to make a change, to leave that life that looks so good to everyone on the outside, but you know when that life no longer fits you, and that’s when it’s time to make the change. Be brave.
I encourage you to read the rest of what Gilbert has to say. Read it, and if it strikes a cord within you and makes you realize that something in your life is “not it,” take a breath and work towards making a change. It doesn’t have to be a leap, it can be gradual, and you can have a plan b if you need one. But, if that leap is what you need, do it. Either way, it’s the bravest decision you can make and one that will completely change your life.